RIVERTON — The 5A state tournament is right around the corner, and Pleasant Gove deserves to be in the discussion of legitimate title contenders.
The Vikings (17-2) have built a strong case throughout the year and submitted further evidence with a 71-49 rout over Riverton on the road Tuesday night.
Pleasant Grove adjusted to a wily Riverton game plan, exploding in the second half to run away with yet another region win over a quality opponent away from home.
“I was real pleased with how we adjusted to a great game plan set forth by (Riverton coach) Steve (Galley),” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister. “It was a good test for us tonight and fortunately the guys executed our game plan in the second half and we got a good win against a good team.”
Riverton’s game plan coming out was to simply slow down the pace. It largely worked and led to a narrow 27-26 lead for the Silverwolves at the end of the first half.
Things changed dramatically in the second half.
The Vikings altered their defensive attack to be able to dictate the pace. The move worked like a charm.
“We just changed it up defensively,” McAllister said. “We told them they couldn’t just sit back and let them tick time off the clock. We were much more aggressive defensively, changed things up with some good trapping and some other things, and started playing the way we prefer.”
Pleasant Grove outscored Riverton in the third quarter 28-12 to build a commanding 54-39 lead entering the fourth. The aggressive defensive pressure led to a bevy of easy baskets and open 3-point opportunities. Most of the 3-point shooting was provided by guards Riley Court and Forrest Pinnock, who finished with four and three 3-point buckets, respectively.
Court led the team at the point with a game-high 22 points while controlling the pace on both ends of the court.
“Riley is our point guard and it‘s his job to show poise and control the pace and fortunately for us he almost always does it very well,” McAllister said. “He’s a player who will do whatever's necessary in every game. Tonight it was scoring, but he’s a guy who on other nights will hand out a lot of assists and not shoot a lot. He does whatever it takes, along with Forrest.”
Pinnock added 15 points with center Matt Conway contributing 17.
With the win, Pleasant Grove improves to 7-1 in region with just four games remaining in the regular season. Next up is a stern home test against region leader Lone Peak on Friday night.
Although the Knights provided the Vikings with their lone region loss, McAllister likes the improvement he's seen in his team and their chances against anyone.
“What every coach wants is for their team to progress with every game and I think we’ve largely done that,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence and the players definitely feel they can play with anyone in the state. We just need to keep it going.”
With the loss Riverton drops to 4-5 in Region 4 and will next take on American Fork Friday night at home.