5A playoff notebook: Big 3 dominate in first day of playoffs
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
As expected, 5A’s big three all took care of business in relatively easy fashion in the opening round of the playoffs on Tuesday.
No. 3 Lone Peak kicked off the day with a convincing 62-36 victory over Kearns as Nick Emery knocked down his first three 3-pointers en route to a 24-point outing.
Just as important was the contribution of junior Talon Shumway. A star during last year’s state title run, Shumway needs to be a consistent contributor for the Knights to repeat as 5A champs, particularly on the defense side of the ball.
“He frustrates guys, that’s what helps us be so good as a team. Even if he doesn’t score, he’s always on the best player on the other team defending. Nobody realizes how good he is for us and what he does for us,” said Emery.
No. 2 West Jordan also dominated, racing to a 43-12 halftime lead en route to a 68-38 win over Fremont. As efficient as the offense was, West Jordan’s dominance defensively was just as impressive.
Not to be outdone, No. 1 American Fork rolled past West 63-40, flexing its new-found strength, which the Cavemen hope will get them over the top in the 5A state tournament this year.
Two teams needed overtime to punch their quarterfinal ticket, and the best game of the day was Riverton’s thrilling double-overtime triumph over Viewmont, 52-51. Stephan Holm and D McCleary came up huge combining for eight 3-pointers and 37 points, including some ultra clutch baskets in the fourth quarter and overtime.
In the double overtime though, it was Riverton’s junior Ginger, who was the hero with a pair of clutch free throws.
Region 1 champion needed overtime to squeak by Copper Hills 43-41, but it was by no means a well-played game.
Northridge only shot 25 percent from the field, including a stunning 11 percent in the first half. It missed 17 free throws, including numerous clutch attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime. Second-leading scorer Preston Christensen in particular struggled making just 1 of 13 shots. Despite all of that, Northridge found a way to win thanks to another outstanding defensive effort.
“It was a good high school game. I think both teams expected to play better, but when they didn’t you do the best you can and we came out on top,” said Northridge coach Chad Sims.
Fellow Region 1 foe Weber wasn’t so lucky losing to Brighton 62-45.
Weber starting point guard Hayden Schenck, who was averaging 19.7 points this year, injured his left knee in a collision with Brighton’s Brandon Miller midway through the second quarter. He tried to return with a knee brace in the second half, but only lasted 30 seconds before he had to come off the court for good.
It was a devastating blow for Weber’s comeback attempt, as it already trailed Brighton 26-13 when the injury occurred.
"We're not going to measure our season based upon this one game. Weber won 17 games, we're going to be so proud of that and build on that toward last year,” said Weber coach Mark Larsen.
For Brighton, whether Schenck was on the floor or not, it might not have mattered. It played great basketball from the opening whistle, and only committed eight turnovers.
Bingham helped complete the Region 4 sweep of Region 2 as it advanced past Hunter with Cody Benson scoring 19 points to spearhead the 59-45 victory.
For Benson, it was another solid game as he continues to become a more versatile scorer instead of just relying on his 3-point shot.
In the night cap at the Maverik Center, which tipped off at 9:30 p.m. thanks to the Riverton-Viewmont double-overtime game, Alta sophomore Landon Albrecht came of age with 10 points on two 3-pointers and some solid rebounding.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.