4A high school basketball: Sky View's Jalen Moore defensive switch made the difference
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
OGDEN — It was only fitting for the most famous hairdo in Utah.
As Sky View’s Jalen Moore parted the crowd and approached his opportunity to climb the ladder after winning the 4A state championship, 56-50, against Mountain Crest, the loudspeakers changed tune.
“People all over the world — join hands — start a love train” echoed throughout the Dee Events Center Saturday. It was the famous 1972 hit by the O’Jays. And Moore, with his Darnell “Dr. Dunk” Hillman afro waved his appreciative hand toward an adoring student body following the championship dance.
After Moore, who was named the Deseret News tournament MVP, sunk a miraculous half-court heave to propel the Bobcats to the championship game, he was featured as the No. 2 play on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays. As the segment concluded, the commentator said, “it has to be the fro.”
“I mean I don’t plan on cutting it anytime soon,” Moore said. “I’ll see if I can keep it at Utah State. Just try and keep rolling with it. I’ll keep it until someone makes me cut it.”
Sky View coach Kirk Hillyard let out a belly laugh when the hairstyle was mentioned.
“I don’t know what you call it but it was amazing,” he said. “Jalen is a great kid — awesome.”
Although Moore’s hairstyle is widely discussed — it, unfortunately, had no effect on the outcome of any game this postseason. The real reason the Bobcats, who many expected would lose in the first round, captured their first state title since 1994 was a change made on the final game in regular season.
At home on senior night, Sky View incorporated an unconventional 3-1-1 full-court press with Moore guarding the inbounds. The move caused havoc for opposing teams.
“We had talked about it a lot early on in the season. We had a meeting way back in October. The coaches just said with our length and our size that’s what we should do,” Hillyard explained. “Kind of my philosophy, if you give up an easy one it’s easy to back off it. That’s kind of how we did all year. We tried it a few times — it didn’t work — and we got out of it.
“It was just a philosophy where things weren’t working and wasn’t going our way,” Hillyard continued. “We needed to make a change if we were going to change how our season was going to end. We made a change, the kids bought in, and we forced ourselves to do it — and amazing things happened.”
Moore agreed. The mentality, the attitude, the confidence all switched after beating Roy 70-33 on the final game.
“That Roy game was a huge motivational boost for us,” he said. “Once we got that press working and teams were struggling against it — we found out what we needed to do. We came out strong and that game was back and forth — crazy valley rivalry — I’m just glad to come away with a win.”
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