SOUTH JORDAN — Some of the luster of No. 1 vs. No. 2 facing off was lost when No. 1 lost on the road earlier this week, but all that did was serve as extra motivation for the Bingham Miners.
A few days after falling from the ranks of the unbeaten, Bingham took care of previously unbeaten Brighton 74-61 Friday night in a physical game on the Miners' home floor.
"We wanted to come out with a little vengeance and get a win over Brighton," said Bingham's Michael Arnell.
Arnell was one of several Bingham players who picked up the scoring slack with more high-profile teammates on the bench in foul trouble. He finished with a team-high 17 points, but his contributions defensively were just as important as he held Brighton guard Corbin Miller to just eight points, five of which came in the final minutes with Bingham in control.
"Being a senior, I feel like I'm part of the leadership of the team, so I felt like I needed to step up and score some points," said Arnell. "But mostly just play great 'D.' I had to shut down Corbin Miller and I did the best I could."
Bingham (6-1) never trailed after taking an early first-quarter lead, capitalizing on a relatively sloppy performance by the Bengals, who turned it over 17 times and shot 40 percent from the field.
Sam Wunderli's 21-point night helped Brighton (4-1) keep it close most of the game, though, but Bingham always had a response when the visitors threatened.
Wunderli's 13-point second quarter had his team poised to head into the locker room at halftime only down three, but Nate Girsberger hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Bingham opened up a 38-32 lead.
The Miners extended the lead to 44-33 early in the third quarter, but with 5:05 remaining in the quarter, leading scorer Ben Clifford picked up his fourth foul.
"We're always concerned 'cause he's a three-year starter; he's a guy we count on a lot. It's a concern when he gets into a foul trouble, but Spencer Brown's a great post. He's worked hard," said Bingham coach Mark Dubach. "He'd probably start anywhere else, so for him to be there waiting when Cliff has that situation is great for us."
With Clifford on the bench over the next eight minutes, Brighton had numerous chances to whittle the deficit to less than six points but never could. It didn't help that the Bengals only made 2 of 8 free throws in the third quarter, or that starters Miller, Xan Ricketts and Austin Hudson were all in foul trouble themselves — all three eventually fouling out.
In the fourth quarter, Bingham shortened the game by spreading the floor, and it never led by less than nine points the rest of the way.