Two of Utah’s top high school basketball teams met head to head when American Fork welcomed Bingham to its floor Tuesday evening.
The Miners got the best of the Cavemen, taking down their hosts 71-61 in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal when the Miners were ousted from the tournament in a one-point loss.
“It was fun for us to come back to the same place,” Bingham head coach Kyle Straatman said about returning to the court where his team was eliminated a season ago. “It just kind of worked out that way.
“We always like to play American Fork. It’s a good matchup for us. They’re a well-coached team. They play their butt off all the time. It’s big for us to come here and get an early win just to give us a little bit of confidence.”
The contest was the season opener for the Miners but was the second time American Fork hit the hardwood this year (its first game was a blowout victory over Taylorsville).
That fact was on full display as Bingham struggled early. The Miners scored just five points in the first quarter and trailed by nine at its end.
Straatman was confident his team would turn things around, however.
“I knew we were going to be fine, just that those first-quarter jitters would get us,” the third-year head coach said.
“We just stayed aggressive and kept playing with confidence and kept playing our game. We didn’t try to force things. We played together and shared the ball really well.”
Bingham senior guard Luke Leatherwood sparked the Miners offense in the second quarter, making three 3-pointers and scoring a total of 11 points in the period.
Devin Carlson chipped in six more and Tyler Newbold and Ace Reiser each had four to give the Miners 25 points in the quarter.
“We’re a good offensive team,” Straatman said. “At any point, we have five guys that can score the basketball, which is rare.
“It’s nice to have everybody being able to score or shoot or attack the rim.”
Bingham proved that on Tuesday night with five players scoring in double-figures, and the Miners outscored the Cavemen in each of the final three quarters.
Senior forward Kam Dupaix led Bingham in scoring with 17 points, picking up 15 in the second half as the Miners surged past American Fork for the win.
Bingham took its first lead on a Brayden Whitehead board and bucket early in the fourth quarter and the Miners never trailed again.
When asked what he was telling his team before it got its first lead, Straatman said, “Just to keep our defensive effort up. That was the biggest thing. I knew the offense would kind of catch up for us.”
The two teams’ seasons will continue later this week with both matching up against out-of-state squads.
Bingham will play again on Thursday at 6:35 p.m., while American Fork hosts its third straight home game Saturday at 7 p.m.