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High school basketball: Even-keeled Beetdiggers hold off Bengals

Steven Morgan of Jordan, left, is fouled by Austin Hudson of Brighton in the Beetdiggers' Region 4 victory on Friday.
Steven Morgan of Jordan, left, is fouled by Austin Hudson of Brighton in the Beetdiggers' Region 4 victory on Friday.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

SANDY — Up 20 or fighting off a dangerous run by Brighton, the Jordan Beetdiggers' moods, emotions and enthusiasm hardly changed on Friday night.

They scarcely cracked smiles during a 15-0 run in the first quarter, and more importantly never panicked when the Bengals got within two points in the fourth quarter. The even-keeled Beetdiggers simply played through it all, earning a key 63-56 win over Brighton in Region 4.

"One of the things that's been good about our team is we don't get too high and we don't get too low," said Jordan coach Rob Geertsen. "We just kind of stay even and I think that really pays off. It's helped us start and finish games the way we have been."

Jordan handed Brighton its first league loss of the season and took sole possession of first place in Region 4. The Beetdiggers improved to 3-0 in league play and 10-2 overall. Brighton fell to 3-1 and 10-3.

The Beetdiggers' quick start put the Bengals on their heels early. Junior Joe Mero scored 10 of his game-high 16 points during an early 15-0 run. The spurt put Jordan up 22-4 with Mero draining two 3-pointers while Brighton was focused on the Beetdiggers' bigs.

"It was great," Mero said. "Going out there, hitting shots and having people just scream at me, there's nothing better than that. It's awesome."

The Beetdiggers' defense was awesome as well, holding the explosive Bengals to three field goals in the game's first 10 minutes. Jordan, which had an entire week to prepare for the game, had Brighton scouted well, and seemed to know where the Bengals were going with the ball on many of their early possessions.

"We watched a lot of film," Geertsen said. "We know their sets. We knew everything they were running. You saw our guys actually beat their guys to spots sometimes on offense."

Brighton seemed to adjust in the second quarter, and chipped away at Jordan's lead. The Bengals made the game interesting in the fourth quarter, getting close at 53-51 when Sam Wunderli made a steal, drew a foul and sank two foul shots.

But the Beetdiggers stayed composed as if they were at a Saturday morning practice with no one watching. They made three consecutive stops on defense, and hit enough free throws to put the game away. Jordan scored six consecutive points to take an insurmountable 59-51 lead in the final minute. Mero said communication among his coaches and teammates were the key to keeping the Beetdiggers calm while the Bengals had the game's momentum.

"We were talking to each other, making sure we're all on the same page — a lot of communication," he said.

The Beetdiggers had four players score in double figures. Leading scorer Kevin Goldsmith recovered from a slow start and had 14 points. Alex Hart and Nate Monson each had 11 points. Hart hit a runner with 1:30 left to make the score 58-51.

Corbin Miller's 15 points and three 3-pointers led Brighton. Austin Hudson had 12 points.

The only blemish on the Beetdiggers' victory was their free-throw shooting. They were 18-for-34 from the foul line, and that helped Brighton have some life until late in the game.

"We kept plugging along," Geertsen said. "In the second half, we let them climb back in it because we missed our free throws and they made theirs. We're a good team. We just stick together. I thought our guys did a good job of hanging in there."