The Brighton Bengals girls basketball team seems to have chemistry, energy and good luck every time they step on the court.
"We're just having fun," said Bengal coach Jim Gresh after the No. 1 Bengals soundly defeated the No. 4 Eagles 54-38. " We're rocking and rolling in practice. Yesterday was probably the best practice we've had. We're just flying. I'm not doing anything."
His players believe their quality performances — Brighton is the only 5A team unbeaten in region play — have a lot to do with their chemistry off the court.
"We are working really well together," said senior forward Aubrey Mackintosh, who finished with nine points.
"Things are just flowing the way we want them to right now. I think we're so close off the court, that it helps us on the court."
And as for athletic ability, well, that helps too.
"There are five people who can do everything out there at any time," she said. "We have team goals and one of them is that every game we give it 100 percent. Even the bench."
From the opening whistle in Tuesday's game, the Bengals looked like the team with something to prove, while the Eagles looked tired and complacent. Brighton's defensive strategy was similar to the first meeting between these two teams, with different players offering stiffling coverage of Eagles point guard Jenteal Jackson. In addition to holding her to two points, they played much tighter defense in the paint and held Danielle Peterson to just six points. Peterson scored 22 in the last meeting with Brighton.
"We tried to collapse more on Peterson, but basically we went with the same game strategy," Gresh said. "We were just lucky. We're very fortunate."
The Bengals had three players in double figures in Tasha Dickey, who scored 16, Brenna Hahn, who finished with 12, and Ali Jackson, who added 10 points.
"I thought Ali Jackson had a great night tonight," Gresh said. "I thought she really had a big game for us."
Jackson, Mackintosh, Maya Gross and Tasha Dickey also out-rebounded the Eagles, especially on the offensive end for Brighton. Four times in the second half, the Bengals got three or four chances to score.
"They really utilized their team tonight," said Skyline coach Deb Bennett of Brighton. "They played great."
Bennett and assistant coach Natalie Williams were disappointed in the way the Eagles played sporadic defense and offered only half-hearted rebounding. Reserve forward Teresa Uipi offered the Eagle the most energy with 12 points and five rebounds.
"They played great defense when they wanted to," Williams said, adding that she might have to look at new ways to motivate the team. Bennett said boxing out, rebounding and playing defense are mental decisions that rely on a player's constant commitment to "do the little things."
"You just day in and day out demand that of yourself," Bennett said. "I also don't see us really cohesive offensively, either."
Some of that may be due to the frantic defense thrown at the Eagles by the Bengal players.
"Everyone is talented," Mackintosh said of the Bengals. "We definitely have speed on our team."