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High school basketball: Bengals hold off scrappy Jaguars

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 16 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Brighton's Jordan Wertz, left, reaches for a loose ball against West Jordan's Josh Woodruff during Brighton's victory Tuesday night in Cottonwood Heights. No. 2 Brighton will play No. 1 Bingham Friday.       (Jason Olson, Deseret News) Brighton's Jordan Wertz, left, reaches for a loose ball against West Jordan's Josh Woodruff during Brighton's victory Tuesday night in Cottonwood Heights. No. 2 Brighton will play No. 1 Bingham Friday. (Jason Olson, Deseret News)

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — In many respects, West Jordan played the perfect game. The Jaguars' triangle-and-two defense flustered Brighton's Sam Wunderli, one of the leading scorers in the state, limiting him to just two points, 21 points under his average.

The other focus of the defense, shooting guard Corbin Miller, also struggled only making 4 of 17 shots for 13 points.

What the Jaguars didn't count on Tuesday night is someone like Jordan Wertz. Despite averaging less than four points per game, the Brighton senior went off for 19 points to lead the No. 2 Bengals to an impressive 76-68 victory to improve to 4-0 on the season.

"Jordan Wertz was huge, it's a guy who sometimes doesn't play very much but he made some big shots," said Brighton coach Lyndon Johnson. "We had a bunch of guys do that."

Xan Ricketts added 15 points for the Bengals, with Austin Hudson chipping in with 11 points.

Brighton's coach was just as pleased with his team's defensive effort, especially considering what looms ahead on Friday. With a game against No. 1 Bingham later this week, Johnson said he was genuinely concerned his team might look past the Jaguars. That certainly wasn't the case.

"I thought we played as hard as we could," said Johnson.

The up-tempo pace definitely favored Brighton on its home floor, but West Jordan more than held its own for most of the game. In a game of runs, though, the Bengals' timing was impeccable.

Trailing 19-16 after the first quarter, Brighton opened up a 39-30 halftime lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Wertz and Mike Woodland in the waning seconds of the first half. The Bengals extended that lead to a 41-30 on Wunderli's only basket of the game to open the second half.

West Jordan chipped away at the lead the entire third quarter, eventually taking a 49-47 lead with 1:10 remaining in the quarter on Adam Hawker's driving layup.

As quickly as the Jaguars regained the lead, it vanished. Brighton went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes, which Wertz capped with back-to-back 3-point plays, extending his team's lead to 59-49.

The Bengals' lead never dipped below six the remainder of the game as it drained 12-of-14 free throws down the stretch.

After the game, Brighton immediately shifted its focus to Friday's battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2.

"We're just going to go down and battle and do the best we can," said Johnson. "I hope it's a great atmosphere."

West Jordan, which was led by Jesse Herrin's 19 points, fell to 4-3 with the loss.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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