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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton basketball ‘team together’ on and off the court

Feb 29, 2024 01:26PM ● By Jerry S. Christensen

Brighton basketball players volunteer at The Road Home. (Photo Azar McMaster)

Players and coaches from Brighton’s boys basketball team, known as “the Heights,” have made it a season of service and unlikely upsets. 

“We've preached a concept of ‘team together’ all year long,” said second-year head coach Tim Gardner. Early in the season players from all four Brighton High School boys basketball teams (freshman, sophomore, JV and varsity) visited The Road Home over a couple of nights to learn about The Road Home community and serve those staying there.  

The Road Home supports people experiencing homelessness with shelter, food and other services.

“We felt it would be good to have firsthand interactions with people living in different and more difficult circumstances than what we’re used to,” continued Gardner. Brighton was able to have all of its players attend and perform meaningful service together.

“Spending time at The Road Home was a great experience,” said senior Luke Christensen. “Seeing the circumstances of the less fortunate made us appreciate the work we were doing. Serving as a team made the workload feel lighter, as well as giving us a chance to represent Brighton off the court. At the end of the day, we felt satisfied with our work and were happy to have made a difference in the lives of others.” 

“It made us feel good to visit The Road Home, and it just gave us a better perspective of the challenges people are going through and how we can use our platform to help them,” said senior Kaden Morzelewski. “It showed us there are people going through some rough times but doing everything we can to help them get back on their feet again is a good feeling.”

“The project was fantastic,” said Bradley Easton, a junior. “It was a great opportunity to give back to the community and help the homeless. It was very eye-opening. Half of us helped in the kitchen and the other half helped in the warehouse where we sorted the donations that they got and helped out there.” 

The team bonding continued at the Salt Lake City Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt, where the team combined efforts to collect donations for the Ron McBride Foundation. 

“I think it’s good to provide service as a team to understand there are things more important than basketball. It’s also a good team bonding and team building activity to do this together as a team,” Nash Matheson, a senior, said. 

The team esprit de corps translated late season into another notable team effort on the final home game of the season—senior night on Feb. 13. This time the task was banding together to face the No. 1 ranked 5A team and the defending state champions—the Alta Hawks. 

Brighton needed another win to secure a postseason first round bye and home court advantage. Given that Alta had beaten the Bengals soundly in their first matchup at Alta, the prospects of that last win were bleak.  

Garrett Wilson, Brighton’s athletic director, noted the importance of the game.

"It was a big night—a senior night celebrating three players who have been very important to the basketball program: Nash Matheson, Kaden Morzelewski and Luke Christensen. We were hosting the defending 5A state champs Alta. The stakes were enormous.”   

Coach Gardner successfully got the team to reach deep and pull on the “team together” mantra. 

“We did a good job of defending and rebounding against a very talented team. Our guys shared the ball offensively and turned down average shots to get great shots,” he said.

The lead change was constant through two quarters of play. But in the second half, the Bengals dominated the state champions, won the game by a convincing 16-point margin and secured home court for the playoffs where the Bengals reached the quarterfinals as the No. 8 seed to play No. 1: Alta. λ