Two nights earlier in the 6A first round, Pleasant Grove spent the fourth quarter in a dogfight, trying to figure out how to solve West Jordan’s frustrating defensive puzzle before finally pulling away in the final few minutes.
In Thursday’s quarterfinals at the University of Utah, the Vikings took care of business in the first three quarters to ensure that the fourth quarter was a mere formality as it coasted past Weber 64-49 to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Matt Van Komen dominated at both ends of the floor finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, and his 7-foot-3 presence in the paint forced Weber to shoot a ton of outside shots — and it didn’t convert nearly enough.
“West Jordan had us dumfounded for a half, and so it was nice to have them come out tonight and perform well and get themselves going early, and it’s easy to build on that,” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister.
Pleasant Grove advances to Friday’s 6A semifinals with the win, and McAllister said his players are incredibly dialed into finishing off their season-long goal.
“They’re so geared into winning it, and that’s honestly all they talk about. We went there last year to the semis, so to them anything less than getting here and surpassing that wouldn’t be satisfying, and they talk about it all the time,” said McAllister.
The slow start in Tuesday’s first round played a big part in Thursday’s quick start.
Pleasant Grove scored the final seven points of the first quarter to build an 18-9 lead and then stretched it to 33-16 late in the first half before Weber scored the last five points of the quarter.
Van Komen, in particular, was motivated after a frustrating first-round game, and Weber gave him more space in the paint than West Jordan did to settle into a good rhythm.
“We worked hard yesterday on the stuff he’s been doing all year, just go to that jump hook. It’s unstoppable if he just catches, turns and goes, I don’t know what I’d do to guard it. I think he was much better tonight, he had more confidence, and he was motivated too,” said McAllister.
The Vikings shot 50 percent in the first half and dominated on the glass with a 21-9 rebounding edge. They turned seven offensive rebounds into a 12-3 edge in second-chance points.
Weber, conversely, couldn’t anything going offensively with Van Komen clogging the middle. It ended up settling for 3-pointers on numerous possessions, but it only made 3 of 13 3s in the first half.
In the second half, Weber made 6 of 14 3-pointers to stay within relative striking distance, but Pleasant Grove never let the lead dip below nine points in the second half as it connected on 66 percent of its shots.