On the surface, it might be tough to believe that the head coaches for both an undefeated team and a team that has a record of 2-8 might feel like their main concerns are the same.
But both Pleasant Grove head coach Randy McAllister and Orem head coach Perry Wildeboer both would love to see their squads find more consistency.
“We have stretches where we play well and then we’ll have stretches where we play bad,” McAllister said. “They outscored us for most of three quarters but when it got close, we didn’t really do anything. We talked about being more solid on defense then we went on a little spurt.”
The Vikings roared out to a huge first-quarter lead, then withstood a pretty impressive Tiger rally to get the 78-69 win.
“These moratoriums can be tough,” McAllister said. “We hadn’t seen each other in seven days. But anytime you can get a win, that’s a good thing.”
Pleasant Grove used a devastating transition attack to go on a 27-7 run, building a 34-12 advantage early in the second quarter.
“You could see we had a little fear and anxiety,” Wildeboer said. “When you only have two wins, the confidence isn’t there. But we were trying hard. I even called a couple of timeouts back to back. I told them to not look at the score, that all the mattered was how we played.”
The Tigers answered with an 11-2 run to narrow the gap to 13 points at halftime, then came charging back to get the deficit down to just seven points heading into the final quarter.
Orem had a chance to get even closer but the Tigers couldn’t their foul shot to drop to start the fourth quarter and Pleasant Grove scored 12 of the next 14 points to put the game away. Five different players made baskets during the game-clinching run.
“We are at our best when we share the ball,” McAllister said. “In part of the game, we had guys who were too eager to shoot it. We are better when we get the ball moving and the guys know that.”
On the other side of the court, Wildeboer was pleased to see his guys battle back like they did — although it didn’t result in a victory.
“I knew we would have to grow up and that there would be a learning curve,” Wildeboer said. “In every game we show flashes. In one game this year we came out and looked like the best team in the state for the first quarter. But there are growing pains and I’m learning to deal with the psychology. I have to be patient but I think we’ll get there.”
He said he knows his young squad is getting valuable experience now.
“We didn’t have any spring or summer this year, so we have had to learn during the preseason,” Wildeboer said. “We are creating the team identity with the goal of being ready in February. We’re not afraid of a challenge.”
Both squads had a number of players put their talents on display on Wednesday.
Pleasant Grove had five players score 8 points or more, led by 22 points from junior guard Dylan Jones, 17 points from senior forward Isaac Vaha and 16 points from junior guard McCaden Adams.
Orem countered with 22 points from senior guard Aisake Toiaivao, 20 points from junior forward Dane Christensen and 10 points from freshman guard Lance Reynolds.
Both teams have league play coming up fast.
Pleasant Grove (11-0) still has a couple of tune-ups before getting into the Region 4 meat-grinder, starting by hosting Bingham on Tuesday. Orem (2-8) kicks off Region 7 action at Lehi on the same evening.
Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.