Pleasant Grove controlled the opening tip but suffered a first-period hiccup when the Vikings missed their first three shots and lost control of the ball. Regaining their composure and flow, the Vikings gained and extended their lead through each period until playing keep-away for the last 13 seconds of the fourth period, ending with an opening region win, 63-48, over region foe Westlake Thunder.
"This team is a fantastic team," Viking head coach Randy McAllister said about the Thunder. "Their guard line is huge. I thought they would out-power and out-rebound us. They have a quick offense and move the ball well."
Less than a minute into the game, Westlake was up 5-0 on great defense and excellent outside shooting. But it didn't last long enough as the Vikings came screaming back on two treys and a field goal that swung the momentum of the game to Pleasant Grove.
One of the best parts of the game came halfway through the first period when senior guard Kawika Akina came in to play. Akina has been out of the lineup for 13 games as he has been in rehab for an injured hand suffered during the second game of a pre-Christmas tournament in Hawaii. "He has spent all 13 games at my side being an assistant coach," McAllister said. "Today, I fired him as a coach and hired him as a player. We're all excited to have him back on the court."
After the game, Akina said, "This is the first region game for us, and I think we played well. Westlake is a great team, their guards are bigger and really fast. Our third period seemed to have no flow to it, but with some adjustments, the last period went very well."
The Vikings held Westlake's best three scorers to under their average points and out-rebounded them, taking away several second shot opportunities.Comment on this story
Pleasant Grove's senior guard and high scorer on the floor, Casey Brown, scored 15 points. Akina, another senior guard added 14 points, 7-foot-4 senior center Matt VanKomen scored 11 points and another senior guard Max Miller added 10 points.
With the loss, Westlake now has a win/loss record of 0-1 in Region 4 and an overall record of 12-3. Their next game will be on the road, playing Lone Peak on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The Vikings now have a 1-0 record in Region 4 and an overall record of 13-2. Their next game will be played in California at the Maxpreps Martin Luthur King Classic on Monday, returning to play at home on Friday, Jan. 25, against the Lone Peak Knights.