BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL – Bountiful’s Jeff Pollard summed up the Braves’ win over American Fork Friday night at Bountiful High School in just two words.
The defense from the Braves took charge in the second and third quarters, allowing seven and eight points respectively, in the 56-50 victory.
“It was a team effort tonight, really,” said Pollard, who scored 17 points in the win. “We just went out there and played as one unit and came out with the win.”
The plan from the start, said Pollard, was to look at each individual player rather than the whole team. Finding a weakness worked for Pollard’s opposite, Ryan Andrus, who was held to 15 points in the game and was kept away from rebounding opportunities on the other end of the floor.
“We broke down what we could do with each player to take them out of their game,” he said. “We did that, and we were able to dominate them.”
Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell praised Pollard’s efforts.
“He just made the best center in the state … look kinda average,” Maxwell said. “Bottom line is that’s what happened. Jeff said ‘hey, I might be the best center in the state.’ He was trying to make a statement, and he did.”
A back and forth first quarter translated into a slim one-point lead after the first quarter, but Bountiful’s defense held the Cavemen to just seven points in the second quarter. The defensive stand allowed the Braves to take a seven point lead at the half.
One troublesome area for the Braves in the first half came at the free-throw line. Bountiful was only 1-for-6.
“We missed too many,” said Maxwell. “We got to get free throws, we got to defend the three (pointers) better. We got to do some things on execution when they’re defending us better … these are just things we look at as coaches.”
Bountiful performed better from the free-throw line in the second half, converting 14-of-19 attempts.
“We got to get to the point where we don’t make those mistakes and we’re closing out on those 3-point shooters,” Maxwell said. “Then we won’t be in these kinds of games.”
American Fork made a big charge in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points while making four straight 3-pointers.
The Braves converted eight out of 10 free throws in the closing minutes to seal the win.
“We’re a good team, we’re solid,” Maxwell said. “Now we got to solidify that by what we do every day in practice. We want to make sure we improve when no one is looking.”
Sam Merrill and Zac Seljaas each scored 13 points in the win.
The Braves will head to the Tarkanian Classic, being played in Las Vegas, NV, next weekend.