This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Jaxon Brenchley understands the pressure has increased, especially after committing to the University of Utah over the summer. The senior transferred to Ridgeline to help establish the first-year program located one minute from his home in Cache County.
But the 6-foot-5 guard has dealt with the mountain of expectations since playing as a freshman at Mountain Crest because his potential and talent were on display from the outset.
He averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman for the Mustangs. He increased his output to 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks per game as a sophomore. He again elevated his production as a junior, averaging 18.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals.
So when he transferred into a 3A program, he knew the expectations would multiply.
"It's probably higher expectations, but I don't really feel it that much," Brenchley said. "It's the same. It's the same defensive schemes, with face-guards and box-and-ones and double teams. The pressure is still there."
Brenchley has maintained his upward trend in his senior season. He's averaging 20.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game all team highs.
Opponents in 3A are aware he committed to play for the Utes, which he said was "the best day of my life. It was such an amazing experience. It's still kind of surreal. I watched [Utah] my whole life on ESPN and now in the Pac-12. It's amazing that all the hard work paid off."
Brenchley will serve a two-year LDS Church mission following graduation and enroll at Utah in 2019.
Despite schemes specifically designed to slow down Brenchley, the Riverhawks are one of the top teams in the classification because of their star guard. Ridgeline uses Brenchley similar to how UCLA depends on Lonzo Ball. Brenchley might not be as talented as Ball, but much like the Bruins with Ball, everything the Riverhawks try to accomplish offensively is directly connected with Brenchley.
Making the move to the new school wasn't difficult because Brenchley wasn't going it alone. His coach, Graydon Buchmiller, along with several other basketball players also moved from Mountain Crest. That familiarity along with Brenchley's skills helped raise the expectations from the school's inception.
"It sets the bar high," Buchmiller said. "It's a standard that is achievable, but it definitely makes everybody have to increase [their performance]."
Ridgeline competes in an ultra-deep Region 11, where five of the six teams boast a .500 or better overall record. Morgan, the lone exception, is 6-7. It's the strongest league in the state by winning percentage. So no doubt the Riverhawks (8-4, 0-1) will be tested.
Each player on the team wears a wristband inscribed with Feb. 25, 2017 the date of the Class 3A state championship at Utah State University, essentially in the Riverhawks' backyard.
"That's been our goal forever, and all we've been working for every day," Brenchley said. "It's all we talk about."
Brenchley and Co. understand the expectations are extremely high, but that doesn't scare them.
"I never felt that much pressure," Brenchley said. "I can just focus on winning state and being the best teammate, just trying to win. I don't have to [focus] on numbers or stats because I already have my future set."