OGDEN — Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister figured his team might get off to a slow start in the opening round of the 5A state tournament on Monday with just one returning contributor from last year’s runner-up squad.
“Riley (Court’s) the only one that knows what this is all about, this game and the level and the excitement of this stage,” said McAllister. “Dribbling the ball’s a little harder, decision-making is tougher, the rim looks like sometimes it might be floating around in the air for those guys that haven’t been in this situation.”
It took the Vikings about 10 minutes to settle in, but one they did it was lights out for underdog Alta.
After falling behind by eight points early in the second quarter, the Vikings ripped off an 18-2 run to close the half on their way to a resounding 66-44 victory at the Dee Events Center.
Pleasant Grove held Alta scoreless on nine straight possessions to close the half, and Riley Court helped officially put the game out of reach in third quarter by scoring 13 of his game-high 27 points as the Vikings stretched the lead to 47-28.
As good as Pleasant Grove was offensively in shooting 48 percent from the field, not to mention enjoying a 43-22 rebounding edge, defense was the catalyst to the victory.
The Vikings held Alta to just 26 percent shooting, and only 22 percent from 3-point range.
“My teams in the past have been pretty good scoring teams but not typically known for their defense,” admitted McAllister. “I’m just having a kick with this team about how excited they are about playing D and wanting to do well and keeping teams down and not let them score. It’s a whole new feel of teams of mine, scoring about 10 points less, but allowing about 15 points less than we have the last few years.”
With the victory, Pleasant Grove advances to Wednesday’s 5A quarterfinals and will face Davis at 7:30 p.m.
“They’re a great team. Jesse Wade is a great player,” said Court, who added 13 rebounds and four assists against Alta.
James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.