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The City Journals

Brighton boys basketball get to state tournament the hard way

Apr 03, 2018 03:44PM ● By Josh McFadden

Adam Christensen lays the ball up at practice last fall. (City Journals)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

Though it’s not realistic for everyone, every high school team aims to reach the postseason. Despite playing in a challenging region, the Brighton boys basketball team qualified for the Class 5A state tournament.

 The Bengals just got there in an unconventional way.

Brighton finished its slate of Region 7 games with a 3-7 mark in league games. Alta and Cottonwood also went 3-7, deadlocking all three schools in fourth place — and in the final state tournament spot. Tie-breaker rules pitted Brighton against Cottonwood in a play-in game Feb. 22. The winner would face Alta the following day for the chance to advance to the state tournament.

 During the regular season, Brighton had fallen to Cottonwood twice, 54-48 on Jan. 30 and 69-66 in the regular season finale just two prior to the play-in game. The third time was the charm for the Bengals.

Brighton got revenge on Cottonwood, beating the Colts handily, 59-43. With the exception of the second quarter, in which Cottonwood outscored Brighton 21-13, the Bengals dominated action from start to finish. Brighton raced to a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a slim 33-30 halftime advantage. The third quarter showcased Brighton’s defense, as it held Cottonwood to a mere three points. In the decisive fourth quarter, the Bengals stretched their lead and pulled away for the victory.

 Three Bengals scored in double figures, led by Adam Christensen, who scored 18 points. The senior also had seven rebounds and three steals. Teammate Cameron Krystkowiak netted 17 points, hauled down six rebounds and dished out three assists. Luc Krystkowiak had 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Brighton racked up points from the foul line by hitting 18 of its 24 shots.

Unlike its season series with Cottonwood, the Bengals defeated Alta in both meetings during region play, including a 65-51 home win on Feb. 16. The tie-breaker was a do-or-die clash, and it turned out to be a back-and-forth affair.

 Brighton outlasted the Hawks 53-50, after building a 27-22 halftime lead. Once again, three Bengals reached double figures. This time, senior Dallin Ringwood had 17 points to pace the team. Cameron Krystkowiak had 13 points and four rebounds, while Luc Krystkowiak had 10 points and three assists.

Brighton’s reward for winning back-to-back play-in games: undefeated Olympus, a team that had defeated foes by nearly 30 points a game during the season.

The Bengals didn’t have enough firepower to match Olympus, the state’s highest-scoring team. Brighton trailed 38-23 at halftime and went on to lose 86-59. Though it was a lopsided contest, Brighton actually gave the Titans one of its tightest games of their season. Olympus would go on to win the 5A title with three more blowout victories. Cameron Krystkowiak was brilliant in defeat. He scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Ringwood contributed 16 points.

 Brighton finished its season with an 8-18 record. Next season, the team replaces Cameron Krystkowiak but brings back his brother Luc, who scored nearly five points a game. Ringwood and Christensen also depart.