OGDEN — The American Fork Cavemen have the initials "TT" written on their shoes signifying their slogan "Team Together."
Some would think "Team Turmoil" would be more fitting with center Stefan Zimmerman being kicked off the team two weeks ago and two players recently serving a two-game suspension. But the Cavemen are certainly not playing like a team with any trouble.
Behind a balanced scoring attack and tenacious defense, American Fork defeated Utah County neighbor Pleasant Grove 51-37 in convincing fashion in round one of the state 4A playoffs. If anything, the recent troubles have tightened up the Cavemen team.
"They're really starting to have that feeling in the locker room of camaraderie," coach Doug Meacham said.
Only one American Fork player scored in double figures, but 10 Cavemen put points on the board. Also, the Cavemen had only nine turnovers while dishing out 13 assists.
"We don't have a go-to guy right now, but we've got plenty of scoring options," Meacham said. "And we've done a good job of letting the game come to us offensively."
But American Fork might have won the game on the defensive side, holding Pleasant Grove to nine field goals. Cavemen defenders also walked away with seven steals.
Meacham also employed a strategy that has been effective of late — going with a small line-up. Late in the first quarter he put four guards on the floor at once. The result was a 14-0 run that opened up a comfortable lead. During that stretch six different players scored.
"We've spread the floor a little bit and allowed our players to do what they can do," the American Fork coach said.
The Vikings briefly threatened to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. After American Fork had opened up an 18-point lead, the Vikings ran off 11 straight points. But after two free throws each by Zach Adamson and Rick Shoff, and an old fashioned three-pointer by Taylor Brown, the Cavemen had again widened the gap to 14 with only three minutes remaining. Pleasant Grove never threatened again.
"Pleasant Grove is a well-coached team and they played with a lot of energy," Meacham said.
Adamson finished as the top scorer for American Fork with 10. Todd Thurgood led the Vikings, also with 10. The Cavemen now face Box Elder in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 6 p.m.