5A girls’ basketball: Riverton squeezes past Brighton
By Anthony Cusumano
Special to The TribuneFirst published Feb 18 2013 12:44PM
With only five points representing the biggest lead of the game, Monday’s Class 5A playoff opener between the Riverton and Brighton’s girls’ basketball teams would come down to poise under pressure.
Riverton’s senior leadership calmed whatever nerves it had.
The Silverwolves outscored the Bengals 14-6 over the final 3:37 and held on to prevail 54-50 at Salt Lake Community College. Brighton, which had won several close games this season, committed 29 turnovers for the game.
"We stuck together as a team," Riverton’s Mallory Bostic said. "You have to be prepared for both situations — winning and losing. Turnovers can make a difference, and luckily, we didn’t have as many as Brighton."
While neither team was able to pull away, Riverton’s defense on Brighton’s top two players — Maddy Chin and Lindsey Johnson — was stellar. Chin scored 18 points, but 14 came in one quarter, while Johnson had only seven points.
"The main thing was to keep Chin below her average," Riverton coach Ron Ence said. "She got her points, but didn’t dominate. The girls kept their composure and got a couple of buckets at the end. Every high school team depends on senior leadership, and it counted when it mattered most."
The Bengals did their best to slow the tempo. However, errant passes and other untimely decisions threw a wrench into those plans. Riverton capitalized on its opportunities, as six different players each scored at least five points.
"They burned us inside so we had to do other things to make up for it," Ence said. "[Brighton] knew exactly what they needed to do. Both teams played well enough to win. We’re realists; you play well and it doesn’t matter your seeding."
McCall Christensen’s free throw gave Brighton a 44-40 lead late in the fourth quarter before Riverton answered with five quick points, all by Whitney Saunders. Tiena Afu’s basket put the Silverwolves ahead to stay at 47-46.
Still, Brighton had a chance at the end. Chin’s basket pulled the Bengals within 51-50 with four seconds left before Riverton closed out the win.
"It feels way good to win, especially because we were down," Bostic said. "The first [playoff game] is probably the hardest."
Saunders had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Riverton. Afu finished with 10 points and Pume Currie had nine. Christensen had 13 points and six rebounds and Alyssa Hirschi had nine points and 13 boards for Brighton.