Pleasant Grove’s McCaden Adams showed off why he’s the leading scorer in 6A this season.
After being bottled up for over two and a half quarters against Westlake Friday night, the senior methodically started taking over in crunch time doing the bulk of the scoring down the stretch to lead his team to the tight 59-56 win in the battle of Region 4 contenders.
Adams scored 15 of his game-high 19 points over the final 10 minutes on Friday, including two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter that gave the Vikings a cushion they never relinquished.
“At halftime I said, ‘Let’s start getting you some catches and I want you to be aggressive and if you have the bucket great, and if you don’t just make the extra pass,’” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister. “He just got more aggressive in the second half. He’s a phenomenal finisher for a guard.”
Adams scored 15 of his team’s final 25 points.
With the win, the Vikings improved to 3-0 in region and kept pace with fellow unbeaten Skyridge atop the Region 4 standings. Despite the win, they nearly gave the game away from the foul line.
In the final minute, Pleasant Grove missed the front end of two 1-and-1 situations and then only made 1 of 2 on another trip to the line. Westlake couldn’t quite take advantage, and missed free throws was the culprit.
Trailing 58-56, Westlake had a chance to tie it from the free-throw line with 5.3 seconds left, but after missing the first shot Westlake missed the second on purpose but couldn’t corral the offensive rebound. At the other end, Adams made his first three throw to stretch the lead to 59-56 but missed the second with 3.6 seconds remaining.
Westlake quickly called a timeout, but Pleasant Grove’s full-court defense coming out of the timeout prevented the Thunder from getting off a good shot, a harmless one-handed runner from 35 feet that banked high off the backboard.
“We have confidence in our defense cause we’ve won multiple games on defense, so we have confidence in ourselves coming down the line,” Adams said.
The Thunder came into the game averaging 72 points, and McAllister credited his players’ effort on the defensive side ball for holding them 16 points below that average.
“We didn’t do anything special, we just bared down and kept them from getting the quick 3s they usually get. We focused on switching and getting out on shooters and not letting them have those easy looks,” said McAllister.
As a team Westlake averages nine 3-pointers per game, but only made five on Friday. Leading scorer Dylan Jones, whose made as many as nine 3s in a game this year, was held in check with six points and zero 3-pointers.
Westlake’s off night shooting prevented it from punishing a turnover-prone Vikings squad that turned it over 10 times in the first half. It cleaned things up in the second half, however, with just four turnovers.
“We’re playing just good enough on defense to overcome those deficiencies on offense, but we’ve got to get better taking care of the ball,” said McAllister.
Isaac Garrett added 11 points for the Vikings, with Michael Mitton chipping in with 10.
Willy Jensen led the Thunder with 17 points on four 3-pointers.