SALT LAKE CITY — The Brighton girls basketball team again overcame adversity and stepped up when it mattered most Wednesday in a 50-46 win over Layton in the second round of the 5A state playoffs.
Sophomore standout Dani Barton was hampered by a sprained ankle suffered in the first round but was able to hit two clutch foul shots late to help secure the win. Despite being at what she defined as “40 to 50 percent” throughout the game, Barton led the Bengals with 16 points in limited minutes.
But Brighton’s win wasn’t all about Barton. Far from it.
“She’s a great player, but I have other experienced players,” said Brighton coach Jim Gresh. “I have four seniors who have been with me for four years. They’re veterans and they know what to do. We love having Dani, believe me, but we have other players.”
Key contributors among Brighton’s seniors included McCall Christensen and Alyssa Hirschi, who scored nine points and pulled down seven rebounds apiece. On the perimeter it was senior Lindsey Johnson hitting big shots and scoring 11 points while point guard Sammie Smith controlled things from the point.
All four seniors helped finish out the game despite a furious charge by the Lancers, which created all sorts of havoc in the game’s final minutes.
With Brighton holding a seemingly comfortable 45-36 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Layton went on an 8-2 run to trail just 47-44 with 46.5 seconds left. Key to the Lancers' run was a full-court press that created a bunch of Bengal turnovers.
“Layton, and (coach) Van Price, they’re going to come at you until the end,” Gresh said. “You never have them beat. They fought hard.”
Fortunately for Brighton, it had enough composure to gather itself and finish things off. Playing big in the final minute was Barton, who sat most of the fourth quarter but was able to hit two big free throws with 20.3 seconds left to stretch Brighton’s lead to 49-44.
“They got a couple of steals at the end and made some shots,” Gresh said. “But I think we made some big foul shots at the end.”
Also playing big for the Bengals was junior Jade Summerhays, who played a lot of Barton’s usual minutes.
“Jade Summerhays had a huge game. She really stepped up and hit some good shots. She was a big key for us,” Barton said of Summerhays, who finished with six points. “Everyone stepped up and did their job well.”
With the win, Brighton advances to the semifinal round where it will take on the winner of Viewmont vs. Riverton Friday at Salt Lake Community College.