RICHFIELD — It had been a long time — two months and four days to be precise — since defending 1A champ Escalante last tasted defeat.
So you can imagine the Moquis weren't exactly thrilled after they were upset by Valley at the Region 15 championships last week.
How Escalante responds to that defeat will be ultimately judged on their performance over the entire 1A boys basketball tournament, but based on the evidence of two games, they've come back with a vengeance.
Two days after ripping apart Wendover in a play-in game to qualify for the 1A tournament, Escalante methodically took down Region 17 champ Salt Lake Lutheran on Day 1 of said tournament at the Sevier Valley Center.
Reigning 1A MVP Tim Hughes led all scorers with 18 points, Brady Barney had 16 and Kevin Griffin added 13 as the Moquis took care of business Wednesday against Salt Lake Lutheran, 72-48.
"They came out ready to play," said co-head coach Brent Cottam. "I think maybe the loss probably forced them up . . . it helped them refocus."
Escalante certainly looked focused on Wednesday and played like the pretournament favorite that many billed them as beforehand.
The Moquis led 16-6 after the first quarter, 33-14 at halftime and coasted in the second half to the win.
In addition to their offensive production, Hughes (8 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals) and Barney (8 boards, five assists and two blocks) each contributed in other ways to help pace Escalante.
Meanwhile, Zac Khokhar (16 points and 4 assists) and Brandon Schrank (9 points) led the way for Salt Lake Lutheran. The Lynx struggled to get into an offensive rhythm against Escalante, especially in the first half, which is exactly what the Moquis wanted to do.
"That's what we work hard at," Cottam said of Escalante's defense. "The defense that we use is kind of a jump-help defense and then kind of a recover."
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