West Ridge, Christian Heritage happy to put 108-3 behind them
WEST JORDAN • When you saw the halftime score was 26-5, you knew something was going a little differently in the second game between the West Ridge Academy and Christian Heritage girls basketball teams on Thursday night.
The final score was 62-7 Christian Heritage - a blowout, but not quite the blowout when the Crusaders beat the Eagles 108-3 on Jan. 18. The game generated national attention that ended up with both teams feeling a bit embarrassed.
"We've tried to keep this low-key," said Jamie Keefer, the athletic director at West Ridge and one of the team's coaches. "We didn't talk about it much on the team, and we didn't want the girls to be hurt."
West Ridge, which is a school for teens struggling with substance abuse or family problems, was hosting the second game of the series. Christian Heritage came in with a new game plan - work on 3-point shooting and try brand new plays - and the Eagles had one of the loudest hometown crowds you'll ever see for a 1A program.
The game was clearly the place to be for West Ridge students, who were chanting throughout the game even as the deficit grew. Perhaps no group was louder than the boys basketball team, which jumped to chant "DE-FENSE" at every available opportunity.
"We're here to cheer on our lady Eagles," said Dan Gordon, who plays on the boys team. "They just keep on fighting and don't quit no matter what. They show a lot of heart."
Even the week leading up to the game had been a special one for West Ridge. The Nike store in West Jordan donated new shoes for all the athletic teams, including some flashy kicks the Eagles were wearing on game night. Shawn Bradley, a former BYU and NBA star and a member of the school's executive board, came out as well to practice to see how the girls were holding up in light of their huge loss.
"Their attitudes are phenomenal," said Bradley, who also served as athletic director at the school for two years. "I've just been really impressed at how they've handled it."
The Christian Heritage crowd still cheered for their girls, but tried to be as respectful as possible. Crusader coach Robert McGill changed the play sets in hopes of keeping the game a little closer while not asking his players to hold back their effort.
McGill said he felt his team had come under unfair attacks by people unfamiliar with the game, which he recounted as a gritty scrimmage-like atmosphere.
"A lot of people said I was pressing the whole game or playing only my varsity - I wasn't," McGill said. "If I had seen West Ridge give up or look like they didn't want to play anymore, it might have been different. But I didn't think it was fair to them for us to give up when they were playing their best. In my mind, that's bad sportsmanship."
More about the first game came to light as well: On the night of the 105-point game, the team's scoreboard wasn't working. The scorers kept putting writing the score on pieces of paper, but the coaches couldn't see the score without stepping onto the court and looking back.
Dan Hopper, the head of Christian Heritage, said the school accepts responsibility regardless.
"We weren't paying attention to the score, and we should've been," Hopper said. "It was never anyone's intent to run up the score or anything like that. We definitely have come into this game with a different approach."
No matter who was or wasn't at fault in the matter, both coaches said they were relieved to put the game behind them. Keefer said the second game had gone much more smoothly, and he was glad to continue a good relationship with Christian Heritage.
"I'm just happy to put this to bed," he said. "This one went a lot differently, and Christian Heritage did what they should've done last time. Hopefully now we can move on."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon