SANDY — Slow starts have become the norm of late for West Jordan.
Then again, so have strong finishes.
After a sluggish first quarter, West Jordan played outstanding defense the rest of the way, pulling away from Alta in the second half for a decisive 75-60 win Friday night.
Down three at the half, the Jaguars outscored Alta 47-29 in the second half for arguably their best road victory of the season.
Jordan Loveridge had a monster game for West Jordan, with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Seth Barrus came up big as well with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
With the victory, the Jags own a one-game lead over Alta in Region 3 with two games remaining. Perhaps the only thing that can prevent a region title are those sluggish starts.
"It's kind of become the trend, and we kind of need to get rid of that. But as long as we play hard entire game I think we'll be fine," said Barrus.
West Jordan's offense didn't necessarily play horribly early on, but the defense struggled. The Hawks made nine of their first 14 shots to build a modest 21-13 lead early in the second quarter.
Coach Scott Briggs called a timeout to get his players refocused on defense, and it had a major impact. After starting the game 9 of 14 from the field, Alta only made 13 of 46 the rest of the way.
"We've been trying to get our intensity back from when we started the season. We wanted to play defense tonight, we've got to do that every night, sit down and play (defense)," said Loveridge.
Despite a 12-0 West Jordan run during a four-minute span of the second quarter, Alta regrouped to take a 31-28 lead at the half. It extended the lead to 33-28 with a Dub Price layup to open the second half, but it was all Jaguars from there.
West Jordan ended the third quarter on a 22-8 run to open up a 50-41 lead. It increased the advantage to 54-41 early in the fourth as Alta continued to struggle from the field.
In fact, offensive rebound putbacks were the only thing keeping the Hawks in the game for a while. After taking a 33-28 lead, nine of Alta's next 12 points were second-chance points, hardly a formula for success against the hot-shooting Jaguars.
"The guys are starting to trust each other a little bit more, and they realize the game will be easier if they just take what's given cause they're all capable of making plays, and when they don't force the issue they're a really hard team to beat," said Briggs.
West Jordan never let the lead dip below nine points in the fourth quarter as it made 16-of-23 free to seal the victory.
Alta had four players score in double figures in the loss, led by Jarett Anderson's 16 points and three 3-pointers.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company