Highland • Lone Peak center Eric Mika said he was more nervous in anticipation of Wednesday night’s season opener against Brighton more than any other game he has played.
The showdown between the consensus top two teams in the state turned out to be a mismatch, as the Knights rolled to a 79-59 home victory in a rematch of last season’s Class 5A championship game.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mika said. “I had butterflies all week, all month, really. It was nice to get them out and actually play.”
Knights, ranked No. 6 in the country by Maxpreps.com, scored the game’s first 18 points and led by as many as 26 points in the first half. Brighton, which scored 121 points in its season opener last week against West, managed just one Brandon Miller three-pointer in the opening quarter and trailed 46-22 at halftime.
“That’s our goal – to come out strong and really push it on them,” said Lone Peak guard Nick Emery, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half.
The 6-foot-10 Mika’s size affected Brighton early, as it settled for outside shots – and lots of misses. Mika altered shots in the paint and dominated the boards as one Peak raced out to the commanding lead.
The Bengals (1-1) made a run after halftime and got as close as 12 points at 58-46, keyed by Miller’s 12-point third quarter. But the Knights turned to Mika down the stretch and he delivered. Mika scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and converted two offensive rebounds into easy putbacks to put the game away.
“He finishes around the basket, he runs the floor and he hustles. He really hustles,” Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. “He just wears on people. We started getting penetration in the fourth quarter and they had to help, and now he’s open.”
Miller finished with 23 points for Brighton. TJ Haws scored 16 points and Conner Toolson added 12 for the Knights.