West Jordan raising bar defensively in playoffs

West Jordan coach Scott Briggs had an important message for his team heading into the 5A state tournament, bring it defensively.

The Jaguars have been pretty up and down defensively this season, which hasn’t mattered on most nights because the offense is so good. Heading into the playoffs though, Briggs stressed the importance of consistent defense every game.

On Tuesday, they responded to the challenge.

As good as West Jordan was offensively in beating Fremont 68-38, the defensive effort is what everyone wanted to talk about afterward. Fremont scored just 12 points in the first half and finished the game shooting 27 percent.

“I can’t say we’ve arrived. We were good today. It’s still kind of been a hit and miss thing. We know coming up here you’re not always going to be fortunate to shoot the way we did in the first half, so you’ve got to be able to defend and you’ve got to be able to rebound,” said Briggs.

Slowing down Fremont big man Brock Smith was the focus on Tuesday. Smith came into the game averaging 19.9 points and 10.6 rebounds, and West Jordan kept him mostly in check with 17 points and seven rebounds. Most of his points came with the game well in hand for West Jordan.

“Brock Smith’s a great player. We focused on winning the rebounding count, and I think we did and that was big for us,” said West Jordan’s Jaden Jackson.

West Jordan was the only team in the first four games at the Maverik Center in the 5A first round to shoot 50 percent from the field, knocking down shots at a 52.1 percent clip. In theory, West Jordan won’t be able to keep that up throughout the playoffs, but why not?

The Jaguars have been a great shooting team all year, a big reason they led 5A at 71.6 ppg. They carried that confidence into the Maverik Center, and had no problem shooting well in a building shooters traditionally struggle.

“I do think our guys are confident. Where maybe some people come here almost kind of hoping to survive, our guys know full well they have to be able to play to advance, but at the same time I do think that’s their expectation,” said Briggs.

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