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High school girls basketball: Viewmont wins triple-OT thriller over Brighton in battle of unbeatens

BOUNTIFUL — When two undefeated, ranked teams meet, there should be fireworks.

Wednesday's showdown between second-ranked Brighton and fifth-ranked Viewmont didn't disappoint, as the girls basketball teams needed triple overtime to decide the winner. After 2 1/2 hours, Viewmont ultimately earned the 83-78 victory over the Bengals.

The Vikings found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they trailed the Bengals most of the game.

“We have a lot of confidence, a lot of confident girls, and I think it shocked us being behind,” said Viewmont head coach Clint Straatman. “But we handled it well.”

In fact, Straatman said the Vikings were, at times, their own worst enemy — or in this case, opponent.

“They’re a good team, a well-coached team, but I thought we beat ourselves a few times right there and didn’t put ourselves in very good positions,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job. But the season, it’s early, and we have a long way to go and a lot of growing to do."

The two teams essentially traded punches in the first quarter, with the scoreboard tied at 13 at the end of eight minutes. Brighton led most of the second quarter thanks to a well-balanced effort on offense and strong rebounding. As a result, the Bengals held a 29-26 lead at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to Brighton — both in momentum and on the scoreboard. The Bengals entered the fourth quarter with a 44-37 advantage. Two rebounds with put-backs from junior Alyssa Hirschi gave Brighton the largest lead of the game with a 48-37 advantage.

But Viewmont junior Katie Toole answered with back-to-back jumpers — one of which was a 3-point shot — that brought the Vikings back to within eight. More importantly, it gave the quick, athletic team badly needed momentum, which carried the Vikings until they owned a four-point lead thanks to free throws from senior Collette West with just a minute to play.

Once again, it was Hirschi who led the Bengals back with a jump shot and then a steal and layup that tied the game at the end of regulation with 58 points each.

Both teams had key players in foul trouble and, for the most part, they managed those situations very well.

“You just have to play smart,” said West, whose free-throw shooting iced the win for the team in the final overtime. “You can’t make stupid decisions (when you’re in foul trouble).”

Straatman said he was impressed most with the leadership exhibited by his seniors.

“I liked that my athletes wanted the ball in big situations,” he said. “I think that’s what this team has is a lot of heart.”

In the final overtime, senior Caitlyn Larsen and West went 6 for 6 from the foul line to secure the win, while Larsen also had a key steal and rebound in the final 30 seconds. Larsen finished with 28 points, while Toole scored a team-high 29 points. The team finished with 33 rebounds, 22 assists, 10 steals and 18 deflections.

The Bengals were led by Hirschi, who scored 20 points, and McCall Christensen, who finished with 17. Lindsey Johnson added another 11 points.

Brighton coach Jim Gresh complimented both squads.

“It was a great effort by us, and a good job by Viewmont,” he said.

Larsen and her teammates were all smiles after the win.

“I remember the good parts,” Larsen said of the intense game. “I try to forget the bad parts. I wouldn’t say it was frustrating. We believed in ourselves. But it was nerve-racking.”

She said the team likes to run and in the final minute and a half, Straatman asked them to slow down and play smarter.

“I felt like they just needed to slow down and show some composure, and play their game — run the floor, good defense, execute on offense,” he said. “And we did. We didn’t really do anything fancy.”

West, who finished with 11 points, said the victory is important to the players.

“This is a big win,” she said. “They’re a great team. We were way excited to play Brighton, and way excited we pulled through and got the win.”

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