PLEASANT GROVE — It's never just a game when Pleasant Grove takes on Lone Peak in boys basketball, and Friday night was no exception. What did work as an exception, at least in recent history, were the Vikings coming out on top 68-58 while controlling the course of play throughout.
Most of the credit for the win can be attributed to the Vikings' defense, led by 7-foot-3 Matt Van Komen, for forcing the Knights off their offensive game for most of the night, but particularly in the first half.
"Defensively in the first half we were solid," said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister, whose team jumped out to a 29-17 lead at the break. "(Lone Peak) shot a low percentage in the first half with some decent looks that allowed us to be up 12."
A lot of the Knights' looks were hurried or altered considerably by Van Komen, who is all but impossible to ignore and extremely hard to adjust to for any opposing offense. Van Komen also presents a challenge on the other end, although the Vikings again used a balanced approach throughout Friday's win without forcing the ball inside.
"He doesn't care if he scores 30 or two," McAllister said of Van Komen's mentality. "We have a real balanced approach, and when we share the ball we're pretty good offensively. This group is great at sharing the ball."
Six different players contributed to Pleasant Grove's 29 first-half total, with guard Casey Brown leading the way with seven points and Van Komen contributing six.
The second half saw the pace of play increase significantly, with Lone Peak forcing the action and managing to cut the lead to just 37-30 midway through the third quarter off a 3-pointer by Hunter Hannemann.
"Second half we lost them a little bit," McAllister said. "That's what a team does when they're down. They get a little more desperate and a little more energized and they play with more urgency."
But Pleasant Grove responded fast, putting together an 8-0 run to push the lead up to 45-30, putting the visiting Knights squarely behind the eight-ball. Brown played big in the run, forcing the action on the offensive end to the tune of six points scored.
"I like how we responded," McAllister said.1 comment on this story
As mentioned, Pleasant Grove has come up on the short end of many of the recent games between the two schools, making the win on Friday particularly sweet for the players, coaches and fans.
"I've been here 17 years now and I think we've played about 30 games with them," McAllister said. "We've had some real amazing finishes and most of them have come against us, so it's nice to get one. It really is."
With the win, Pleasant Grove improves to 15-2 on the year and 2-0 in Region 4 play. Lone Peak falls to 11-6 overall and 1-2 in Region 4 play with the loss.