The Brighton High girls basketball team battled through an injury to its leading scorer Dani Barton in the first round of the 5A state basketball tournament with a group effort that led the squad to defeating defending champion Fremont 49-40 Feb. 21 to win the title.
“That’s what championship teams do,” head coach Jim Gresh said. “Everyone does their part in contributing. It really hasn’t hit yet that we won, but it does feel good.”
Barton, a sophomore, suffered an ankle injury in a 21-point effort during the team’s victory over Westlake 49-45 and had to leave the game. Senior Alyssa Hirschi scored 11 points and senior Lindsey Johnson added nine. But the key to the win, according to Gresh, was junior Jade Summerhays coming in for senior McCall Christensen – who had fouled out — and “hitting a big shot from the corner” to contribute her only score of the game.
“The first game is the hardest because you really don’t want to lose in the first round,” Gresh said. “It seemed like the farther we went in the tournament though, the less nervous we were.”
In the second round, Barton, who was still hampered by her injury, led the Bengals with 15 points in defeating Layton 50-46 Feb. 18 with Johnson scoring 11.
A dominating performance on the boards over Riverton in the semifinals – Brighton outrebounded the Silverwolves 40-21 – was the key to a 43-31 victory Feb. 20. Christensen scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds, while Barton had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Johnson also scored in double figures with 10 points while grabbing five rebounds and Hirschi had a six-point, eight-rebound performance.
“We were just there in the moment and tried to prepare for every game while having fun,” Gresh said.
In the championship game, the Bengals found themselves down 25-24 at halftime and having a hard time containing the Silver Wolves’ senior guard Shelbee Molen who had 13 points.
“We went into the game talking about having fun, doing our best and seeing what happens,” Gresh said. “That’s what we really tried to do even as we tried to figure out how to stop Molen.”
Johnson led the way in the title game with 13 points and five rebounds, while Christensen and Barton scored 12 each. Hirschi recorded 10 rebounds while scoring eight points.
Christensen was named 5A tournament Most Valuable Player, while Barton and Johnson were recognized on the All-Tournament Team.Brighton’s superstitious coach got a lot of use out of his lucky blue sweater which he wore throughout the tournament, complete with checkered pants that his wife had bought him. “That sweater’s won a lot of games,” he said.
Also on Brighton’s squad this season were junior Asia Kehl; sophomores Sierra Neves, Ari Miller and Megan Lindquist; and freshmen Savannah Neves, Kambrie Douglas and Sidney Kaufmann.