There was plenty of scoring going on in Kamas on Wednesday night, with seven different players racking up double-digit point totals in the Summit County showdown between the North Summit Braves and the South Summit Wildcats.
After a 12-7 score through the first eight minutes, the offenses took off.
In the end, though, home court would prove to be a big advantage for the Wildcats, who pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a 70-52 victory over their Region 16 rivals.
For South Summit coach Dusty Hatch, the offensive output by the Braves was problematic for his team's defense.
"I thought our defense was horrible tonight," he said. "Our first quarter defense was good, but when Beau [Rydalch] got his third foul [in the second quarter], it kind of took some of the life out of the rest of the guys. Instead of being worried and playing timid, they need to elevate their game and play harder.
"In the fourth quarter, we finally started to play defense a little bit better, but we have to do better than that."
Fortunately for Hatch's squad, the offense was clicking on all cylinders starting in the second quarter. Hatch blames the added intensity of a rivalry game for causing a lower offensive output in the first period.
"We always get amped up to play North Summit," he said. "And North Summit maybe gets even more amped up to play us. That's good on the defensive end offensively, not so much. We were taking shots that we don't normally take. We were going so fast that we forgot what we were supposed to be doing.
Senior Steven Flinders provided a steady influence for South Summit in the first half, scoring all 10 of his points in the first two quarters as the Wildcats built up a 32-23 halftime advantage.
"I got to the free throw line early and Bracken [Santos] made some good passes," Flinders said. "I was able to get open and hit my shots when I was open."
Santos also finished the game with double-digit points, notching 12 on the night. Hatch said it was one of the best games the junior guard has played all year.
"Bracken is so athletic," Hatch said. "He's quick and he's actually long. He's a guard, yeah, but he's almost 6'1", he's got long arms and he moves well."
Brad Richins led South Summit with 18 points and Rydalch had 14 points. Ty Jones had one of his best offensive games of the year as well, notching eight points in the win.
"Ty is just an energy guy," Hatch said. "And he's starting to shoot the ball a little bit more. He's getting some confidence. If Bracken could score 12 points a game and we can get Jones scoring 6-8 points a game, it would help our team immensely."
For North Summit, Cameron Smith led the way, scoring 15 points. Dillen Erb added 14 points and Josh Birk had 11.
Hatch said he thought South Summit's press could have slowed down the three outstanding Braves' scorers, but he didn't want to push his luck with foul trouble.
"We run three different presses and I thought they were all three effective," he said. "We maybe should have done a little bit more of that. But when Beau got in foul trouble, and maybe even more importantly, when Bracken Santos got in foul trouble, we couldn't do it. Bracken's a great on-ball defender. I hated to press too much because of the foul trouble. I was afraid gambling, reaching all those things we do that we shouldn't would happen."
But, overall, the Wildcats are proud of their accomplishments.
"I think it's just a big win," Flinders said. "It shows we can keep our emotions in check and play through highs and lows and come away with a win."
"For us, tonight was a great win," Hatch added. "It's always great to win a rivalry game."
The win kept the Wildcats undefeated in Region 16 action (5-0) and improved their record to 12-4 overall.
North Summit fell to 9-8 overall (1-4 in Region 16). The two teams will square off again in Coalville on Wednesday, Feb. 12.