OGDEN — Bonneville High’s boys basketball coach, Jason Finder, had one thing in mind when his team traveled to Ben Lomond on Wednesday for its season opener: find a way to stop Sterling Brandley.
Turns out, that job was done before the game even began.
The Scots’ senior point guard — a terrific ball handler and shooter — sat on the bench in street clothes due to an ankle injury he recently sustained in practice. So instead of Brandley to worry about, the Lakers focused their defensive efforts on pestering Ben Lomond’s inexperienced guard line and packing it in underneath, where the Scots’ Josh Hardin normally dominates.
The result was an impressive 48-30 win for Bonneville and offensive frustration for the Scots.
“Our game plan coming in here was, well … Brandley was our game plan,” Bonneville coach Jason Finder said. “He’s a phenomenal player. They’re going to get him back, but they missed him tonight.”
Mason Rich scored 14 points to lead the Lakers and teammate Jared Ford added 11, including three 3-pointers. But the story of the night was Bonneville’s suffocating defense, which held Hardin to one field goal and a pair of free throws. Sophomore Brenden Morris came off the bench to score eight points for the Scots, but no one else had more than five.
“Defensively I thought we played really well,” Finder said. “We had 25 touches (on defense) and we count those as opportunities, like layups and transition points. To have 25 touches was phenomenal and meant that our defense was playing well.”
One prime example of that was Wilson Atagi, 6-foot-3 with some weight behind him, diving over Ben Lomond players trying to catch up with a loose ball.
“He’s a big football player,” Finder said. “And when he gets diving, people get kind of nervous. But energy like that is contagious and the other kids fed off that.”
With three regulars over 6-foot-4, including Rich at 6-6 and Hunter Williams at 6-8, the Lakers’ size really bothered Ben Lomond and Finder hopes his team can exploit its height all year long.
“They have to realize that they’re big and that we have an advantage,” Finder said. “It’s going to be a battle every night in our region and we’re going to have to take advantage (of our size) like we did tonight.”
Both teams now have several days of practice before their next games. The Lakers host Ogden on Nov. 30, while the Scots prepare for the annual Pepsi Classic at Ben Lomond High School from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
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Jalen Moore scored 26 points in the loss for Sky View. No other details were reported.