I told them our advantage is speed and quickness, and theirs is length. You guys just gotta just beat their length. —Pleasant Grove head coach Randy McAllister
OREM — Pleasant Grove’s 62-45 win over neighboring Timpanogos on Friday night was extremely satisfying for coach Randy McAllister for a multitude of reasons.
It featured a breakout game from sophomore Kael Mikkelsen, the team’s best showing of the season on the offensive glass and perhaps most importantly the players showed poise against the press.
In Pleasant Grove’s only loss this season two weeks ago it squandered a 20-point lead as it really struggled to deal with Bountiful’s pressure defense.
“Our guys were so disappointed with how they fell apart against that pressure, and they knew they were going to see the same type of pressure tonight. Not as quick, but longer,” said McAllister.
His team did a phenomenal job handling Timpanogos’ pressure as it only turned the ball over seven times in a game it was always in control of.
The Vikings led 17-7 after the first quarter, 32-18 at halftime and stretched it to 52-29 heading into the fourth quarter. Watching his team keep their foot on the gas in the third quarter, knowing Timpanogos would come out with a ton of energy, was particularly satisfying for McAllister.
“We were prepared. We told them, if you thought the first half was pressure, now they’re going to extend it, and they’re going to come get you,” said McAllister. “I told them our advantage is speed and quickness, and theirs is length. You guys just gotta just beat their length. use your fake, go by them and throw it ahead.”
Pleasant Grove’s largest lead was 24 points late in the third quarter. Timpanogos whittled it to 14 points on a couple occasions midway through the fourth quarter, but the Vikings slowed the game from there by extending possessions instead of taking quick 3-pointers.
A big catalyst to Pleasant Grove’s dominant first three quarters was its tenacity on the glass. It had 11 offensive rebounds in the first three quarters which it turned into 15 second-chance points. Timpanogos had zero second-chance points over that same stretch.
McAllister credits much of that success on the glass to Mikkelsen, who had a breakout game in his first season with Pleasant Grove after transferring from Rock Springs, Wyoming, this season.
Mikkelsen had 36 points and 14 rebounds in the JV game prior to Friday’s varsity game, and McAllister figured that earned him some extended varsity minutes. He made the most of it finishing with 11 points.
“He was crashing and getting his hands on a lot of balls, and if he didn’t get the ball he was tipping it to a teammate,” said McAllister.
Pleasant Grove’s 7-foot-3 center Matt Van Komen, who led the way with 13 points, will always occupy a lot of bodies on the offensive glass — and Friday was a great example of how that can open up opportunities for everyone else.
“We can’t just rely on Matt all game. Our guards need to get in their and rebound and our small guys gotta play big, just tough and strong,” said Pleasant Grove’s Kawika Akina.
Pleasant Grove shot 44 percent from the field with a lot of easy transition buckets, while Timpanogos struggled most of the night shooting just 31 percent. Eight of its 15 field goals were from 3-point range.
Tyler Walker accounted for four of those 3-pointers as he led all scorers with 18 points.