It feels great, yeah. Every team in Region 1 is pretty decent, so it feels good. – Viewmont’s McKay Butler, on the Vikings' 2-0 start to league play
LAYTON — Viewmont High has quickly become the Road Warriors of Region 1 boys basketball.
The Vikings used some superb 3-point shooting to forge in front in the first half, then took the ball inside with great determination and success in the second half on their way to a 56-42 victory over Northridge on Tuesday night.
McKay Butler led the way with 17 points for Viewmont (7-5, 2-0 in Region 1), which notched its second straight Region 1 road win — both by double digits — and hasn't played a home game in more than a month.
"We haven't played a home game since Dec. 10," said Viewmont coach Jeff Emery. "So we've kinda gotten used to this road stuff. We may have lost our white (home) uniforms, we haven't worn 'em in so long."
"It feels great, yeah," Butler said of the Vikings' 2-0 start to league play. "Every team in Region 1 is pretty decent, so it feels good."
Kelton Hirsch added 12 points on the strength of perfect 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range — including a long 3 that banked through the net at the third-quarter buzzer, bringing a broad smile to the senior guard's face.
"I just got a little lucky on that one," said Hirsch, who admitted he did not call "bank" on the shot, which glanced home off the glass from the far right angle. "I didn't call it, but I should have. I definitely should have. Yeah, it was funny."
Of Viewmont's seven first-half field goals, six of them were 3-pointers, and the Vikings wound up shooting better from beyond the arc (10 of 19) than they did from two-point range (8 of 19) or the foul line (10 of 20). They were just 2 of 15 from 3-point range in last week's win over Fremont.
"Yeah, it was feeling pretty good," Hirsch said of his team's first-half barrage from long range. "It hasn't been falling for me this year and as a team, no, we've been struggling a little bit.
"... Well, I guess we should probably work on our twos and foul line then, huh?"
Senior McKay Johnson contributed 10 points and six rebounds, and junior Austin Johnson chipped in with nine more points for the victorious Vikes.
"That's good for us," Emery said of his team's superb 3-point shooting display, "because we haven't been shooting it great from the perimeter.
"But we also talked at halftime about, we looked at the shot chart and we said, 'OK, we made some shots, but we're also kinda living out here.' So we tried to emphasize we've still got to get some touches in the paint, get ourselves to the free-throw line, and I thought the kids did a good job of being more disciplined in the kind of shots we took in the second half. And I think that really kind of opened things up for us."
For Northridge (5-7, 0-1), which had its three-game winning streak snapped, sophomore Jrue Perkins scored 12 of his team-leading 15 points in the fourth quarter. Jake Bigler had 13 points for the Knights, and Jace Colby contributed eight — all of them coming in the first quarter, when Northridge held its only lead.
Twelve of Viewmont's first 14 points came on 3-pointers and the Vikings took a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Vikings stretched their lead to nine, 23-14, midway through the second period before Bigler and Perkins brought Northridge back.
Dallas Moklebust's bucket just before the halftime buzzer pulled the Knights within four, 25-21, at intermission, but that would be their last hurrah.
Butler and McKay Johnson fueled at 12-3 Viewmont run to start the second half, extending the Vikings' lead to 37-24. Then after a Northridge basket, the Vikings scored the last seven points of the period, capped by Hirsch's banked 3 just before the buzzer to boost Viewmont's bulge to 18 at 44-26.
Porter May's shot in the lane made it a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter, and Perkins' late scoring burst could get Northridge no closer than 14 after that.
Emery was mighty pleased with the way his team played.
"After the good win on Friday at Fremont, we were happy with it and then we tried to really emphasize on Saturday that we had to come back and re-focus," he said. "Region 1, we had to go away for two years to Region 2 because of realignment, but we're back and Region 1 kinda feels like home to us.
"And I know from all the years of being involved in this region, there's so many good coaches that you've got to come ready every single night.
"So that was our emphasis. 'OK, great job at Fremont, but now we've got to re-focus; we've got come over here to Northridge on the road again and we've gotta be probably better tonight than we were on Friday night.'" Emery said. "And I thought we did that, especially in the second half. I thought we really came out the second half and executed our game plan."
And hey, after all, that's what Road Warriors do.