Bengals ready for next step: region boys basketball title
Jan 28, 2019 02:00PM
By Josh McFadden
Brighton’s Luc Krystkowiak attempts a free throw during a game earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of Lucid Images, Robby Lloyd.)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
The Brighton boys basketball team hasn’t won a region title since the 2012–13 season. There’s hope that the dry spell will end this season.
The Bengals were 9-4 in non-region play, but only one of those defeats came at the hands of an in-state opponent. Brighton went 1-3 in Torrey Pines, California, during the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Dec. 26–29. Other than that trip, the Bengals posted a glossy 8-1 mark as they headed into the Region 7 portion of the schedule.
And they continued the strong play with an impressive region-opening win over Corner Canyon on Jan. 11, 66-62. Head coach Garrett Wilson said defense has fueled his team’s play.
“We’re one of the best teams in the state in defense points per game,” Wilson said. “We hang our hat on our 2-3 zone. We’ve been working on it since the spring. The guys have learned to play it well.”
The Bengals allowed just 55.9 points per game through its first 14 games. No foe topped 67 points during this span.
Wilson said another reason his team has improved from last season is that they’ve developed excellent camaraderie. The players get along well on and off the court and support one another through the good and the bad.
“The chemistry of the team is tremendous,” he said. “I can’t think of any of my teams with better. We’re a close-knit family — it has that feel. The kids are sacrificing their individual stats. The focus is the team.”
The third-year Bengals head coach said he is fortunate to have good individual talent on his squad, led by 6-foot-5-inch senior Luc Krystkowiak. He is averaging 16.7 points per game to go with 6.3 rebounds and nearly two assists per contest.
“He can take over a game,” Wilson said. “His biggest trait is his ability to get other kids involved. He’s our leader and best player.”
Fellow senior Adrijan Hadziselimovic has been an effective support to Krystkowiak. He’s averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 assists per game. Luc’s brother Ben, a sophomore, is fourth on the team in scoring with 7.4 points per game. Adam Templeton, another senior, contributes 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
With region play in full swing, Wilson is aware that the stakes get higher. His team needs to finish in the top four of the six-team region in order to get back to the postseason. Of course, Wilson is hoping the Bengals will break their string and win a league title.
“We know it starts to really matter now,” he said. “We try to keep the approach to region games like the others. We put effort into training the mental part of things. We want to continue what has been built on.”
Wilson said his team needs to improve its outside shooting, but he is otherwise pleased with the progress the players have made since he arrived three years ago. He’s confident if they continue to play defense with effort and tenacity, good things are in store for the Bengals.
Region 7 won’t be easy. Wilson expects each game to be a “good grind.” The Bengals will compete with Jordan, Alta, Corner Canyon, Timpview and Cottonwood. Brighton’s final league game is at home against Cottonwood Feb. 19.