SANDY — Down 11 on the road, and with less than four minutes remaining, Brighton’s hopes of stealing the victory over rival Alta looked bleak at best.
It turns out all the Bengals needed was a bit more chaos.
“During the timeout, we said we’ve got to speed the game up and play a little more wild and chaotic,” said Brighton coach Jeff Gardner.
That recklessness paid off in a big way as Brighton outscored Alta by 13 points in the final 3:33 of the game to rally for the stunning 61-59 victory in the Region 3 opener.
“We never doubted when we were down,” said Brighton’s Travis Devashrayee. “No one really freaked out and just kept playing. We just hit big shots and we were able to play as a team.”
A lot of players hit big shots to spark the rally, but none was bigger than Devashrayee’s baseline 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining that put the Bengals ahead 60-59 — their first lead since early in the third quarter.
Brighton followed up the big shot with outstanding defense, forcing a jump ball and then a turnover in the final few seconds. The last turnover resulted in free throws for Brighton’s Zach Bernardo, who made the first and then missed the second on purpose with 0.6 of a second remaining.
“Our defense was a huge key. They’re hard to guard, they’re quick and they have good shooters. They’re a tough match-up,” said Gardner.
Brighton certainly benefitted from nervy play from the Hawks down the stretch. Not only did three of their last six possessions end in turnovers, but they also missed the front end of two one-and-one situations.
Devashrayee had never hit a game-winning shot prior to Friday night, but he said it was worth the wait.
“I just needed to pull up and have confidence, cause I knew I missed the one before short, and that’s what I did,” said Devashrayee, who finished with 14 points.
Brandon Miller led Brighton with 17 points, while Zach Bernardo added 16 points and the game-winning assist on the kick-out pass to Devashrayee.
“I thought we did a good job in the press getting a couple turnovers and did a nice job offensively being aggressive against their little box and one. Our kids hit big shots, and that’s always fun for a coach to see,” said Gardner, whose team shot 50 percent from the field (22 of 44).
The loss was definitely a discouraging one for Alta, which led almost the entire game.
Brighton briefly took a lead early in the third after opening the half on a 10-4 run, but the Hawks regained it and stretched it to double-digits on Chase Debenham’s 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining in the game.
Nothing else went right down the stretch for Alta, which was led by Landon Albrecht’s 16 points and 10 rebounds.