COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — With just three games remaining in Region 6, there’s as much clarity now as there was in early January — which is to say there’s none.
With Brighton’s 63-60 win over Olympus on Tuesday and East’s 52-44 win over Murray, those four teams are back in the same place they were just a few weeks ago, tied for first.
Brighton is the only team that doesn’t play one of the other three down the stretch, which is what made Tuesday’s win so important.
Lander Barton scored 23 points to lead the Bengals, who held off a late rally attempt by Olympus as it missed a game-tying 3-pointer attempt at the buzzer.
“We knew we had to play our best and we did, and it was fortunately just one possession good enough,” said Brighton coach Garrett Wilson.
A big key down the stretch was offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting. The Bengals made 12 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter, which contributed heavily to them extending the lead to 55-47 lead with 3:28 remaining.
Olympus clawed right back though scoring on three-straight possession, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Alder and Ben Krystowiak cutting the deficit to 56-55 with 2:05 left.
Brighton stretched the lead back to 58-55, only to have Olympus answer right back and make it a 58-57 lead on a Caden Kuhn lay-up.
Though it was tight, Brighton never relinquished the lead in the final minute. A Barton jumper made it 60-57, and after an Olympus miss Luke Lundquist pushed the lead to 61-57 by making one of two free throws.
“It’s been a long road where are guys are finally starting to understand how to slow the game, how to slow themselves down within it, execute a play down the stretch,” said Wilson.
Alder kept hope alive for Olympus draining a 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining cutting it to 61-60. Following two free throws by Brighton’s Tanner Church, the Titans got a good look at trying to send the game into overtime but the shot bounced off the side of the rim.
Olympus made 13 3-pointers on Tuesday, but need one more to stay in the Region 6 driver’s seat. It has the toughest road in the final three games with games against East and Murray.
For Brighton, back-to-back wins over East and Olympus have helped it move quickly past last week’s loss to Murray.
“I’ll be honest, I was a little negative with that loss and where we were going to go. But these last two games we’ve just kind of decided to come together as a team, being in this for each other, having fun while we’re doing it, it doesn’t matter who’s scoring as long as things are going well,” said Wilson.
Along with Barton’s 23 points, Josh Petersen added 15 with Justin Devashrayee chipping in with 10. Alder led the way for Olympus with 15 points.