Braves basketball holds on vs. Duchesne |

Braves basketball holds on vs. Duchesne

Wednesday night’s game in Coalville was looking grim for the North Summit High School boys’ basketball team at the end of the first half. The scoreboard read: Duchesne 17, North Summit 13.

The Braves were shooting just 25 percent from the floor, hitting only four of 16 shots through the first two quarters.

But, during the halftime break, North Summit Coach Marques Johnson said his team didn’t panic.

"We knew that, if we stayed with it, we weren’t going to duplicate that shooting performance," he said. "We didn’t shoot it well in the second half, either, but we shot better than 25 percent."

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Braves had done just enough to pick up a narrow 40-37 victory. North Summit’s four seniors provided all the points on Wednesday night, with Cameron Smith leading the way with 19 points.

Johnson said it’s a luxury to have a leader like Smith on the floor in tight games.

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"It’s nice," he said. "It’s good to have a senior leader like that who makes big shots. He hit two crucial free throws to put us up three with eight seconds left."

Carson Richins added 12 points, Ryan McMichael had six and Cason Deforest added three.

Johnson acknowledged the tough post play of McMichael, who also led the team with nine rebounds, especially since the senior wasn’t at full strength on Wednesday.

"He’s been sick all week, so to see him give that kind of effort down there was awesome," he said. "He wasn’t feeling his best. We only had four kids score, so we needed every one of his six points."

With the win, North Summit improved to 2-3 on the year. After losing three games at the Pepsi Classic last weekend by six, two and two points, Johnson said it was important for his team to feel what it’s like to win a close game.

"It’s big for us," he said. "Those are things you have to experience in the preseason. We had a lot of family and friends to play in front of, so it was good to pick up a win."

Moving forward, Johnson sees a need for the Braves to improve their rebounding. A shift in defensive philosophy has already paid dividends, he said.

"After the Pepsi Classic, it became evident that we need to become a better rebounding team," he said. "We’ve gone away from hard half-court pressure and we’ve dropped into a zone. So far, it’s been effective. We’re hoping maybe that will work with this team."

This weekend, North Summit was scheduled to take on Union on Friday night, after this issue went to press, in the Park City Classic. On Saturday night, the Braves will square off against Park City.

Playing against two 3A teams will provide valuable early-season experience for the Braves, Johnson said.

"We’re hoping to play well," he said. "Those are both 3A teams and, from what I’ve seen from Park City, their scores are impressive. We want to compete as hard as we can and we just want to learn everything we can and keep improving."

Saturday night’s game at Park City High School is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off.