SALT LAKE CITY — After their win Tuesday evening against the West Jordan Jaguars, the Pleasant Grove Vikings were still excited to play in the 6A UHSAA boys state basketball championships, and that excitement continued in the quarterfinals Thursday as Pleasant Grove silenced the Weber Warriors 64-49.
The University of Utah's Huntsman Center is a great venue for a tournament for local high schools. Pleasant Grove's 7-foot-3 center, Matt Van Komen, slapped the opening tip to one of his guards, and the Vikings were up and running. After Pleasant Grove's first shot missed, Weber grabbed the rebound and went back downcourt; the team's first shot didn't miss, and Weber got on the board first. That turned out to be the Warriors' only lead of the game. Pleasant Grove's game plan took hold, and at the end of the first eight minutes, the Vikings had a solid lead at 18-9 and never looked back.
Van Komen was the leading scorer on the floor with 18 points, including eight field goals, a couple of free throws, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. Junior guard Casey Brown had 13 points, and sophomore guard Kael Mikkelsen added an even dozen.
"We had our guys focus on guarding Weber's distance shooting; that effort took the Warriors out of the game," Vikings assistant coach Derek Scoville said. "That effort was 10 times better than what we did in the opening round. We had a much better game tonight. That is the biggest difference between both games so far."
The game had to be stopped twice for the refs to explain to the Warriors about how not to get called for fouls with the way they attempted to guard Van Komen. His defense in the paint caused Weber to go outside. The Vikings have the best defense in 6A. Weber averages just under 57 points per game, but that didn't happen Thursday. The Warriors hit nine treys but lost time and energy attempting to get open field goal shots.
The Vikings' victory sends them to the semifinals for a Friday game with Copper Hills, which was victorious over Fremont, 65-53, on Thursday evening.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports for Deseret Connect.