It started with a text message.
“Can I work out tomorrow?” Pleasant Grove center Matt Van Komen texted his coaches after last year’s state semifinal loss to Bingham.
The coaches had planned to give their players a week off, but they said yes.
“Sure enough, 20 people were in the weight room the next day because of Matt,” Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister said.
With the drive to move past the disappointment of coming up short in the state semifinal and led by the players who were there for that let down, Pleasant Grove came full circle with a 57-42 win over Copper Hills in the Class 6A boys’ basketball state semifinals Friday at the Huntsman Center.
“We’ve done a lot of offseason work,” said guard Casey Brown, who scored a game-high 25 points in Friday’s game. “Like you heard, the day after we started going again. We go in for lunch most every day during school, and we’re up at 5:30 in the summer. We’ve worked so hard, and so we have one more game tomorrow, and all that hard work is going to pay off.”
Copper Hills was given the unpleasant task of trying to defend a team that sports a roster with both perimeter shooters, guys who can drive to the basket and a 7-foot-3 post player in Van Komen.
Van Komen scored 17 points, 12 of which in the first half, while Brown, Kael Mikkelsen and Tyler Fairbanks combined for five 3-pointers.
“Being undersized,” McAllister said, “we knew our guards driving into that gargantuan defense they had, they weren’t going to score at the rim very often unless there was no help. So we talked about being under control and finding the next guy. And we did a great job of finding the next guy, making the extra pass.”
Copper Hills threatened to make a comeback at the end of the third quarter as Trevon Allfrey hit back-to-back 3s and Jacob Jenson followed with trey of his own to bring the Grizzlies within six points.
“I couldn’t even get a word in for the first 30 seconds of that break because they were on each other,” McAllister said. “They were disappointed in how they let them back in.”
As they had after last year’s state semifinals loss, the team leaders stepped in.
They broke from the huddle motivated. Then came their chance to send a message.
Mikkelsen dived after a loose ball and threw it to Brown, who scored the layup. On Pleasant Grove’s next possession, Fairbanks hit a lofting shot from beyond the arc. The Vikings continued to build on their lead from there to earn a spot in Saturday’s title game.
PLEASANT GROVE 57, COPPER HILLS 42
• Pleasant Grove earns a berth in the inaugural Class 6A state title game.
• Casey Brown leads the Vikings with 25 points and three assists.
• Copper Hills forward Trevon Allfrey scores a team-high 15 points and drains three 3-pointers in the second half.