Brighton boys and girls basketball season reviewMay 05, 2023 01:12PM ● By Jerry S. Christensen
Brighton boys basketball falls to No. 1 seed Olympus in state quarterfinals. (Photo Christine Yee)
Brighton's new gyms were packed this winter with girls and boys basketball teams at the sophomore, JV and varsity levels. Students, family and fans supported the teams in pre-pandemic numbers. All teams made the next steps in the playoffs.
The boys basketball team under first-year head coach Tim Gardner made it to the state quarterfinals. The girls basketball team guided by coach Doug Nielsen made it to the second round of the state tournament.
The boys varsity team compiled a record of 17-8, retiring two seniors Owen Schmehl and Jace Matheson (three-year starting point guard). "I was impressed with our kids' work ethic and desire to get better. They responded to coaching, and I was proud of their consistent effort day in and day out," Gardner said.
Bengals to watch on next year's boys team include Nash Matheson, a senior next year and leading scorer the last two seasons; Kaden Morzelewski (a senior next year); Luke Christensen (a senior next year); and Josh Mawhinney (a junior next year). Nash Matheson was also named as "honorable mention" in 5A state teams.
"Our goal each season is to play our best basketball in late February,” Gardner said. “This year our team trusted the process and improved throughout the year. We are proud of our growth and look forward to taking the next step.”
The lady Bengals ended the season on a high note with a 15-11 record finishing third in the competitive Region 6—the highest finish since 2015 when Brighton took state with Dani Barton (Drews) handling the ball. More impressive is that the young team was able to post those stats with a single senior player, Addi Smith.
Brighton's former basketball coach and now Athletic Director Garrett Wilson noted, "We have two freshman on the varsity team, Sophie Nielsen and Olivia Stephens, who were top 12 scorers in 5A basketball." Those two underclassmen are flanked by the talent of Charlotte O’Neal (a junior next year), Lucy Chin (a junior next year), Maya Mismash (a senior next year) and Taylor Workman (a junior next year).
Coach Nielsen says the program is growing. “Our summer basketball camp has now had over 400 kids from the community attend, our youth teams have grown from one team to now seven in just three years. We are filling the stands, the energy is growing and growing for this team.”
All Brighton home games were streamed and captured for viewing by Brighton's state-of-the-art Hudl camera system. Watch any of those games on the YouTube channel "Brighton Bengals Live." Photo galleries of the season are online at brightonbengals.org. λ