High school girls basketball: With rivalry game looming, Brighton Bengals hold on in victory over West Jordan

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 13 2015 2:01 a.m. MDT

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Given the fact that they have a huge game looming Thursday — a rematch with archrival Alta — and given their sloppy play Tuesday night against West Jordan, one might have thought the Brighton Bengals were looking ahead too soon.

But Brighton coach Jim Gresh said that wasn't the case.

“We were not thinking about Thursday at all. All our focus was on West Jordan tonight,” said Jim Gresh after his team's sloppy 49-40 victory over the West Jordan Jaguars (3-3, 9-8). “West Jordan is a good team, as we saw tonight.”

After a close first-quarter battle, the Bengals (5-1, 12-4) took over early in the second as they ran up an 11-2 run on the Jaguars to lead 21-12 through the first five minutes.

In particular, the Bengals' Sammie Smith took over as she had seven of her 9 points in the quarter.

But just as quickly as Brighton thought it had a secure lead, the Jaguars came back with a 9-4 run of their own to cut into the Bengals' lead.

Brighton led 25-21 by halftime.

“We were rushing some of our passes tonight," said Gresh about the sloppy play. "We saw openings that weren’t there, and their zone defense confused us.”

The third quarter went back and forth several times as the Jaguars stayed in the game with the help of Lejla Hadzialijagic and Kim Evans. Hadzialijagic led her Jaguars with 13 points on the night, while Evans had 8 points. The Jaguars went into the fourth quarter down 35-33.

The Bengals started the fourth in a furious way with a 10-4 run as they jumped out to a 45-37 lead within the first six minutes.

The Jaguars, yet again, came back as they cut it to a five-point game with a minute and a half left.

Maddy Chin wasn’t ready to give in as she carried the Bengals on her back, producing a team-leading 15 points.

“We worked well together as a team. We tried to get the ball to the open player tonight,” said Chin.

McCall Christensen and Alyssa Hirchi were huge for the Bengals as they scored nine points and eight points, respectively.

“We played hard at the end when we really needed it. Our offense took over then,” said Gresh.

As for Thursday’s rematch against Alta (4-2, 8-9), which beat Brighton 52-51 on Jan. 10 at Brighton High, Brighton could position itself to control its own destiny for a region title with a victory over its archrival.

“We are going to come out and play our hardest on Thursday,” Chin said.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company