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SANDY — On a night the refs were calling it extremely tight, Jordan's decision to play an aggressive, physical brand of defense at rival Brighton backfired in a big, big way.
The Bengals weren't fazed by the choppy play, building a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter and then capitalizing on a bizarre number of free throw attempts in the second half to pull away for the 78-60 region victory.
After attempting just nine free throws in the first half, Brighton got there 35 times in the second half, ultimately finishing the game making 35 of 46 as Jordan committed 32 fouls.
"We're a 78 percent free throw shooting team, which is remarkable for high school. That's gotta be one of the best in the state for sure. We've got good free throw shooters, and they did a nice job late getting to the line and knocking them down," said Brighton coach Jeff Gardner.
No matter how ugly it was, wins are wins and beating Jordan was a huge victory for the Bengals, who improved to 4-2 in region play while dropping Jordan to 2-4. It also avenged an overtime loss to the 'Diggers back on the first night of region play last month.
"Obviously in the region we have, every game is a huge game, and it's not even necessarily that we played Jordan, but it was that we needed this win. We'll be just as prepared for Cottonwood on Tuesday," said Brighton guard Brandon Miller.
Miller, the second-leading scorer in 5A at 22.7 ppg, scored 29 points and did most of his damage from the free-throw line as he connected on 18 of 23 attempts.
The 'Diggers tried to slow Miller from the opening tip by having Taylor Loomis blanket him whether he had the ball or not. Loomis, however, picked up two quick fouls in the opening two minutes.
Jordan was forced to back off the defensive pressure after the quick fouls, but as a result momentum got out of hand pretty quickly.
Trailing 8-5 midway through the opening quarter, Brighton closed the quarter on a 13-4 run. It proceeded to outscore Jordan by a dozen points in the second quarter to build up a 40-22 halftime lead.
"I think our team just got into a rhythm. I felt I was in a rhythm, and I just think when we get moving in our motion we have a pretty good rhythm," said Miller.
Brighton's Bryce Callahan knocked down three 3-pointers in the first half as he went on to finish with a career-high 20 points.
As frustrating as the first half was for Jordan, it got into foul trouble even quicker in the second half reaching its 10th team foul with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"There was just a lot of fouls. They fouled a lot, and they really slowed it down. I couldn't get an open look. I had a guy grabbing my jersey all the time, but that's how it is sometimes, sometimes you have to grind it out and we have the guys to do that," said Miller.
Brighton only attempted three field goals in the fourth quarter but still finished with 26 points on 21 of 27 shooting from the line.
The Bengals opened up their biggest lead of the game, 55-35, on a Callahan 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter. Jordan responded with a mini 11-1 run to cut the lead to 56-46, but the Bengals quickly regained it from the free-throw line.
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