PLEASANT GROVE — Tenacious defense and dominant post play.
It's a combination that is hard to beat and is what Pleasant Grove served up to Riverton in a convincing 72-50 home win Friday night.
Forward Matt Conway led the way with a dominating 38-point performance. The 6-foot-6 senior employed a variety of superlative post moves and was the beneficiary of a smooth-running offense that led to a bevy of easy baskets.
"My teammates really do make it easy for me," Conway said. "They like to feed me, and it gives me good looks. They're really smart players, and they know when to get me the ball at the right time."
Indeed, most of Conway's 38 points came within 2 feet of the rim in what seemed like a layup drill at times.
Conway and his teammates led throughout but gained most of their separation in the second quarter.
Leading 15-9 after one quarter, the Vikings put together an 11-1 run to start the second to lead 26-10 with just over four minutes remaining. Conway had seven points during the stretch, but it was the team's defensive effort that led the way, according to Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllistar.
"Tonight was the first night where we honestly thought the defense set the tone," he said. "So we're real happy with that and that was the boys just making a commitment to make that happen tonight."
Pleasant Grove built its lead to 38-22 entering the half and made sure not to rest on it to start the second.
A 10-4 run to start the third quarter proved that notion as the Vikings extended the lead to 48-25 with just 3½ minutes into the second half.
Riverton was unable to make a significant dent in the lead from there on out as Pleasant Grove came away with a very important region win.
"Every region win is huge — absolutely huge," McAllistar said. "You have to take care of the home field, and we did that tonight."
Conway was helped out by Forrest Pinnock, who had 12 points and Mark Sheffield who had eight. Guard Riley Court had just four points on the night, but received praise from his coach following the game.
"He was the reason the defense was what it was tonight," McAllistar said about Court's effort. "All week long in practice he kept telling the guys that we needed to get it together on defense. He's just been an emotional leader as a junior, and I couldn't be more happy about his leadership."
With the win, Pleasant Grove improves to 12-1 on the year and 2-0 in region play. The team will travel to take on Lone Peak next Tuesday. Riverton falls to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in region play with the loss. Next up for the Silverwolves is American Fork on the road next Tuesday.