You can’t really describe it. It means a lot (to beat Bingham). —Copper Hills head coach Andrew Blanchard
OGDEN — For most of the regular season, the Copper Hills Grizzlies relied on two things to carry them to victory, a stifling defense and junior Trevon Allfrey.
Through 22 games, Copper Hills had the third-best defense in 6A, allowing an average of just 52.6 points per game.
Allfrey, meanwhile, averaged just under 19 points per game, a team-best mark that was also 11 points better than the next closest Grizzly, senior Joe Wilson (7.5 ppg).
The resulting combination was solid enough as Copper Hills finished with a 14-8 record and a No. 2 seed in the state tournament.
Whenever either of those elements didn’t show up, however, the Grizzlies usually lost. Perhaps no game proved that more than their Jan. 3 loss at home to rival Bingham.
The Miners limited Allfrey offensively that evening, holding him to 10 points, and did what they wanted on offense en route to an 11-point victory.
Bingham limited Allfrey again in the rematch, played Tuesday afternoon at Weber State University, but the Grizzlies learned their lesson.
The trio combined to score 30 points and helped the Grizzlies overcome an off night from Allfrey (he finished with 11 points). More importantly, they were an integral part of a Copper Hills defense that held the Miners six points below their season average.
“You can’t really describe it. It means a lot (to beat Bingham),” Copper Hills head coach Andrew Blanchard said. “I thought we played fantastic (defensively). To hold Bingham to (54) is pretty good.”
Of the unexpected contributions of Hutchings, Bush and Shorts, who on the season combined to average just 10 points per game, Blanchard added, “(Bingham) was keying on some guys, like Allfrey and (Joe) Wilson. We were able to spread the floor and (Hutchings, Bush and Shorts) used their quickness to go and finish.”
Each player came through at different moments throughout the contest, making their contributions all the more important.
Hutchings was the first to make his mark, as he scored nine of his 11 points in the first quarter.
“(Hutchings) really carried us in that first quarter,” said Blanchard. “He really helped us not let (Bingham) run away with it like they did the first meeting.”
Thanks to Hutchings, the Grizzlies led by a point at the end of one period of play. The early momentum enabled Copper Hills to hold off the Miners in the second quarter and build on their lead.
At the half, the Grizzlies led 26-21 and looked well on their way to victory.
The teams exchanged body blows in the third quarter, with neither side making much headway. That is until Bingham outscored Copper Hills 8-4 over a two-minute stretch late in the quarter.
The Miners got as close as three points and that was where Bush took over. The junior was a vital part of a game-changing 6-0 Grizzlies run to end the quarter that gave the designated home team some much-needed breathing room.
“We got the ball where it needed to go,” said Blanchard. “We saw some mismatches and they had some foul trouble. We got it inside, I don’t think we had a three in that stretch.”
The fourth quarter was Shorts' time, with the occasional contribution from Hutchings and Bush. Shorts, a sophomore, scored seven of the Grizzlies' 23 fourth-quarter points, including five from the free-throw line.
“Kylan may have shot like seven free throws all year,” said Blanchard. “ He hasn’t shot a lot of free throws, but he had ice in his veins and put them in. He really grew up today. He was fantastic.”
“It was just a great team effort,” Blanchard added.
Up next for the Grizzlies is a quarterfinals matchup with the Fremont Silver Wolves, to be played on Thursday, March 1.