High school basketball: Nationally ranked Lone Peak the clear favorite in 5A

Published: Thursday, Jan. 3 2013 6:55 a.m. MST

Check out the Deseret News leaders to see the scoring, rebounds, steals and assists leaders in 5A.

Here’s a look back at the 5A preseason capsules that were published on Nov. 19.

Throughout a dominant preseason in which it shot to the top of MaxPreps’ national rankings, Lone Peak’s boys basketball team tried to keep things in perspective.

“The (national) ranking is an awesome thing, but we have to put that in the back of our heads. Rankings really don’t matter. The end of the year is really what matters, a state championship. That’s what we’re building toward,” said Lone Peak guard Nick Emery.

The two-time 5A state champions are 10-1 this preseason, which includes a 6-1 record against out-of-state teams. The Knights have two more prestigious games out of state this month, but they're taking just as serious their region opener against Riverton next Wednesday.

Some have suggested that this year’s Lone Peak team led by a trio of BYU basketball commits could be the best in state history. One coach said he’d reserve judgment until the Knights win the state title, but that might be a foregone conclusion.

The Knights’ average margin of victory in four in-state preseason games against Brighton, Cottonwood, Orem and Viewmont was a whopping 30 points.

The contingent of BYU commits — Emery (18.6 ppg), T.J. Haws (17.3) and Eric Mika (16.5) — is leading the way offensively, while fellow starters Talon Shumway and Conner Toolsen help make the Knights a formidable defensive team as well.

It might take a perfect game for someone to beat Lone Peak, but you can bet ranked 5A teams like Davis, Weber, Brighton and Bingham would love an opportunity come tournament time.

Lone Peak faces some tough challenges in Region 4, too.

Bingham, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Lehi and Riverton all own winning records with region play getting under way next week.

Led by skilled 7-footer Brandon Morley, Bingham might be Lone Peak’s biggest threat for the region title. The Miners are coming off a 4-0 showing in San Diego last week at the Holiday Classic, with Morley taking home tournament MVP honors in the Senator’s Division.

American Fork could be a sleeper team as well, despite the graduation of five starters last year. Big man Ryan Andrus is having a great preseason averaging 20.3 ppg, and the Cavemen are also the last in-state team to beat Lone Peak back in February.

“Last year we had some team players, but we also had some individual stuff. This year players know their roles and they can come in and do what they need to do to contribute to the team. I think we have more of a unified team this year,” said Andrus.

Pleasant Grove, Lehi and Riverton will all be in the mix for playoff spots as well.

Region 4 isn’t the only deep league in 5A, though.

Region 1 features five teams with winning records heading into league play next week, including the only undefeated team in 5A — Davis.

Jesse Wade (14.5 ppg), Abel Porter (13.6) and Braden Koelliker (10.9) lead the way for the Darts, who have quality wins over Alta, Bingham, Olympus and Judge this preseason.

“We’re a team that’s pretty athletic, and we need to take advantage of our athleticism,” said Davis coach Jay Welk.

At 9-1, Weber is also having a great preseason, and senior point guard Hayden Schenck has been the catalyst. He’s averaging 28.4 points and 6.1 assists, an incredible feat considering he tore his ACL in the 5A state tournament last February.