MILLVILLE – Nobody told the Hurricane Tigers they were supposed to get blown out by No. 1-seeded Ridgeline. In fact, Hurricane looked like the more complete team for more than three quarters of the first-round playoff contest at RiverHawk gymnasium.
“The kids played well and I’m extremely proud of them,” Tigers coach Todd Langston said. “We just got a little rattled when they made that run. They forced some turnovers, then we missed some easy shots and then we started getting a little shaky.”
Ridgeline also turned to its star, Jaxon Brenchley, who pretty much carried his team to the win.
“He just took over the game for four or five minutes,” Langston said. “There’s a reason he’s got a scholarship to play at the University of Utah – he’s the real deal. We just had no answer for him. He did a little bit of everything in the fourth quarter – posting up, dribble-drive, stepping out and hitting the 3. We just couldn’t stop him.”
Hurricane was stunning the capacity crowd at RHS until late in the third quarter. With 2:33 to go in the third, the Tigers led 48-40 after back-to-back treys by Josh Parker and Jackson Last.
Then Brenchley found his groove. The senior scored in the lane for a three-point play, then got a steal and layup to make it 48-45. Parker and Nate Ben combined for three free throws to push the lead back to six at 51-45. But Brenchley assisted on consecutive plays to Landon Jenson, one off of a Brenchley steal, to make it 51-49.
Then Brenchley buried a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to end the third and just like that, the Tiger lead was gone.
Starting the fourth, the trend continued. Brenchley rebounded a Last jumper and led the break, assisting on a layup by Dallan Larsen to make it 54-51. After a Hurricane turnover, Brenchley hit a pull-up jumper to make it 56-51, the Ridgeline scoring streak reaching 11 unanswered points.
Theron Wallentine scored on a three-point play a moment later (off a Brenchley assist) to cap what ended up being a 14-0 run that changed a 51-45 Hurricane lead into a 59-51 RiverHawk advantage. Brenchley scored or assisted on all 14 points.
“I loved our kids’ competitive edge in this game,” Langston said. “They came out and played really hard and I’ll tell you, there was no cheering in that gym for three-fourths of that game. We had our chances, but we couldn’t do much when Brenchley took over the game. He’s as good as anyone we’ve played against this year.”
Hurricane would never challenge after that and when Brenchley checked out of the game in the last minute of play, his line read: 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block – with just one personal foul and three turnovers. Larsen chipped in 14 points and Wallentine had 11 for Ridgeline (18-4), which advances to the state 3A quarterfinals and will play Carbon at 11:10 a..m. Thursday at Utah State’s Spectrum Arena.
Parker led the Tigers with 23 points in the senior’s final game at Hurricane, including three 3-pointers. Last had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Tigers, who finish the year 13-12 overall.
“Josh shot the ball extremely well and Jackson Last played really well and I’m excited to be having him back next year,” Langston said. “Adam (Heyrend) and Reagan (Marshall) also played well in spurts, and they’ll both also be back. We definitely took a step in the right direction this year and I think we’ll be even better next year.”
3A STATE BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST ROUND
Desert Hills 49, Bear River 41
Stansbury 44, North Sanpete 43
Ridgeline 72, Hurricane 59
Carbon 54, Tooele 46
Dixie 55, Logan 53
Canyon View 71, Union 47
Richfield 53, Grantsville 41
Juan Diego 47, Pine View 42
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