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WEST VALLEY CITY — West Jordan was considered to be the most dominant team in 5A entering the state boys basketball tournament, and a 68-38 thrashing of Fremont in Tuesday's opening round did little to dispel that notion.
"I feel great," said star forward Jordan Loveridge following the game. "We're defending really well and that's what wins these games — defending and rebounding."
The Jaguars' defense paved the way in building a big lead early, holding the Silverwolves to just four points in the first quarter and just 12 points at the half. The offense was churning as well — scoring 43 points at the half — with players making shots from the perimeter, inside and off multiple fast-break opportunities.
The first quarter was a clinic in dominant basketball, with the Jaguars storming out to an 18-2 lead and wrapping up the quarter with a 22-4 lead.
Loveridge led the way, scoring 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field.
Loveridge slowed a bit in the second quarter, collecting his second foul around the midway point, which forced him to the bench. His team didn't slow down, however, building a 43-12 lead at the break.
"We knew that if we defended well that things would work out for us," said Loveridge. "Coach (Scott Briggs) prepared us very well leading up to the game. We knew what they would run and bring it at us, and credit goes to coach for knowing what was coming and preparing us the way he did."
Fremont was hardly chopped liver entering the first-round game — featuring one of the best low-post players in the state in Brock Smith. It was a matchup that the 6-foot-6 Loveridge looked forward to and didn't take for granted.
"He's a beast," Loveridge said of Smith. "He's an all-around great player and he's going to go out hard every game and I'm going to go hard, so it was a great battle."
Loveridge cooled down a bit after his scorching first quarter, finishing with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds before sitting for most of the second and fourth quarters.
Smith, meanwhile, scored 17 points on 5-for-16 shooting, doing most of his work in the second half when the game was well out of hand.
Guard Jaden Jackson led all scorers with 22 points, converting nine of his 12 field goal attempts. Parker Brown added nine points off the bench with Jordan Pryor adding another eight.
Overall it was the start West Jordan was looking for as the 5A favorites.
"We came into this game wanting to defend and wanting to rebound," said Loveridge. "We just came out with more energy — especially on defense … it's a great start for us, but we know that every game is going to be tough. There are no bad teams in this tournament."
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