SALT LAKE CITY — Brighton senior center Austin Hudson scored 20 points and Zach Wertz added 19 more to lead the Bengals (10-4, 3-2) to an 82-66 victory over Region 4 rival Hillcrest (5-9, 1-4) Friday night to gain possession of “the jug.”
“We trade that trophy. They’ve been trading it forever,” Brighton coach Lyndon Johnson said of the traveling trophy that goes to the victor of the most recent basketball game between the two teams. “So anytime we play them it brings a little extra to it.”
With 59 seconds left in the first quarter, Hillcrest senior forward Andy Harris, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, was fouled going to the basket and finished off the 3-point play with the charity shot to tie the game up at 17.
Brighton, however, led by as many as 10 in the second quarter, but the Bengals were never able to completely run away from the Huskies in the first half.
Hillcrest guard Liam Smith left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, but returned halfway through the second quarter to hit a trey in the Huskies’ comeback effort, but Wertz, who had three 3-pointers in the game, answered with a 3-pointer of his own to make it a two-point game at the break.
“When it was 42-40 at half, that’s our tempo and our kids playing hard,” Johnson said. “We ratcheted up a little bit in the second half, rebounded the ball better and defended better...As a coach and as players, that’s all you can do.”
Brighton pulled away midway through the third quarter, tiring out the Hillcrest players with the increased tempo, and eventually outscored the Huskies 20-9 in the quarter.
Behind Hudson and Wertz, Corbin Miller added 14 points and Brandon Miller added 12. Along with Harris, Tanner Dastrup added 18 points for the Huskies, while Bubba Pecht and Smith has 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“Nobody was selfish,” Hudson said. “It didn’t matter about who or how many we scored it mattered about the final score. Next year Brighton and Hillcrest will not play in a league game. This is the last year we will play head-to-head, so it most definitely is very sweet.”
Because Hillcrest is moving down to Class 4A next year, the only time the two teams would possibly meet would be in a preseason contest.
Tavin Stucki is a sophomore journalism student at Utah State University.