OREM — It may seem hard to believe, given Bingham's 70-32 demolition of Viewmont on Tuesday, but Bingham coach Jake Schroeder admitted to being a bit nervous leading up to the game.
Schroeder's jitters didn't have much of anything to do with his own team, but with Viewmont and its ability to pull big upsets. With coach Jeff Emery leading the way, one has to only look back to last season when the Warriors upset No. 1 seed Lone Peak in the quarterfinal round of the 5A state playoffs.
“I’ll be honest, I was really nervous going in,” Schroeder said. “Not that I’m not confident in my guys or anything, just Coach (Jeff) Emery — he’s won so many games and so many big games.”
Bingham players were mindful as well of Viewmont's ability to rise to the occasion in the state playoffs.
“They knocked off the No. 1 team last year and they have some guys who can shoot it really well, so I’m glad we played the way we played,” said Bingham forward Yoeli Childs.
Schroeder's anxiousness continued throughout Tuesday's blowout, even at the start of the fourth quarter with his team leading by 30-plus points.
"I’m always scared to death,” Schroeder said. “I didn’t even know how much we were up by, but there’s six minutes left, they hit a bucket and I get nervous. I’ve seen too many things. I’ve only been coach three years here and I’m losing my hair and everything.”
Schroeder did eventually relax and allowed his starters to relax for almost the entire fourth quarter sitting on the bench. It was a move players believe can pay dividends for the stretch run of tournament play.
“It’s really big when you have four games in five days, hypothetically,” Childs said of resting a quarter. “So it’s really good to get some rest.”
— Brandon Gurney
Bobcats aren't being snakebitten this year
OGDEN — The last two years, if it wasn't for bad luck, Sky View's boys basketball team would have absolutely no luck at all.
After all, in both of those seasons, the Bobcats lost their starting point guard just prior to the start of the state tournament, and it shattered any chance they might have of duplicating the glorious state championship season they enjoyed in 2013.
Instead, the 'Cats were eliminated with first-round losses in both 2014 and '15, including an embarrassing 83-53 blowout against Timpview last year.
Not this year, though, as starting point guard Jake Hendricks stayed healthy — he suffered a broken foot just two days before the state tourney started last year — and Sky View scored a 63-49 victory over Pleasant Grove in Tuesday's opening round of this year's 5A event at Weber State's Dee Events Center.
"I know we didn't represent last year, but the last two years we've gone into the state tournament losing our point guard both years," Bobcats coach Kirk Hillyard said following Tuesday's win. "We lose Braxton Godderidge — who was with us when we won the state championship — we lose him with three games to go in the (2013) season.
"And then we lose our point guard Jake (Hendricks) last year; he breaks his foot the Saturday night before the state tournament.
"So when you lose your captain of your ship heading into the state tournament, it's pretty tough to adjust when you're trying to bring some other guys in to fill that spot," he said. "And he's a big part of our team, as you can tell, the way he handles the ball, the way he finished tonight, so that was tough."
No doubt about that. Hendricks, forced to miss last year's tourney opener, scored a game-high 20 points and also had five rebounds and three assists in Tuesday's triumph.
"We didn't represent last year," Hillyard admitted of his team's 30-point debacle in 2015. "Even at that, we can't feel sorry for ourselves.
"But this is Sky View basketball — playing hard, getting out, controlling the tempo of the game, which I think we did the second half. It's a great time of the year, great fun."
And it certainly helps — and is a lot more fun — to be at full strength, too.
— Randy Hollis
Blackmon facilitates and scores for Layton in victory
OGDEN — Layton point guard Julian Blackmon missed the entire preseason with a broken wrist suffered during the football season. The time on the sideline game him some perspective.
“That’s the biggest thing I got out of this. Not playing in preseason just really made me realize things come short. You don’t get to play this all your life,” said Blackmon.
Layton is 12-1 since Blackmon returned to the court, and he’s been dominant averaging 15.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 4.2 steals.
“He’s probably the best point guard in the state, I have no problem saying that,” said Layton coach Kelby Miller.
“He’s almost impossible to stay in front of, and he knows that, and we know that also. We try and put him in situations where he can be successful. He’s going to have to do good things for us to go deep into this tournament.”
For defending 5A champion Layton to make another run, Blackmon needs to not only be a facilitator but a scorer. That wasn’t a problem on Tuesday as he scored 21 points in the 54-38 win over West Jordan.
Last season Blackmon’s roll on the team was much different. He only averaged 7.8 points behind leading-scoring Jarriesse Blackmon who averaged 16.6.
He’s Layton’s go-to scorer heading into this week’s state tournament, but he said it’s almost just as important to maintain his point guard facilitator role as well.
— James Edward
Carling comes "home" for Westlake's first state tourney win
OGDEN — The city of Ogden holds a special place in the heart of Westlake High coach Nate Carling — and it's likely even more special to him now.
After all, Carling was born in Ogden back in the mid-1970s when his father, Ron, was serving as the boys head basketball coach at Ben Lomond High School. So this Northern Utah city will always be considered Nate Carling's hometown.
And on Tuesday, Carling's team etched its name in the school's record books by becoming the first Westlake team to win a state tournament game in the school's relatively short eight-year history.
The Thunder's 70-51 victory over Region 1 champion Weber at the Dee Events Center marked the first time they've tasted tourney triumph since the school opened in 2008-09. In their only other state tourney appearance back in 2012, the Thunder lost in the opening round.
Comparative league strength
OGDEN — Weber High ran the table in the Region 1 boys basketball race with a perfect 12-0 record, and the Warriors came into the 5A state tournament with an impressive 19-3 overall record, having won 15 of their last 16 games.
Westlake, meanwhile, was the fourth-place finisher from Region 4 at 6-6 and had to win its last three games just to qualify for the state playoffs.
Yet, when the two teams squared off in Tuesday's 5A tourney opener, it was the Thunder who came away with an impressive 70-51 victory, shattering the Warriors' special season. In all fairness to Weber, though, Westlake's overall record is now 18-6, meaning the Thunder have gone 12-0 against non-league opponents.
Westlake's defensive effort, fueled by 6-foot-6 Maizen Fausett, made it difficult for Weber's offense to play its normal game, and the Warriors wound up shooting just 33 percent (17 of 51) from the field in the disappointing defeat.
Weber's leading scorer, splendid senior guard Grant Ellison, struggled through an uncharacteristic 3-of-11 shooting performance on his way to 10 points after averaging nearly double that (19.65) for the season. Indeed, it was one of those dismal days for the Warriors.
"He's a tremendous player and he had our full attention, I'll tell ya that," Westlake coach Nate Carling said of Ellison. "We have some guys with some good length, and they may not have experienced a lot of that maybe in their league.
"But the length that we have with Maizen Fausett that second half, he got his hands on a lot of basketballs, blocked shots, deflections, steals, he really influenced the game on that defensive end."
Fausett was a force on both ends of the floor.
"I just try to keep my hands up, and it seemed to bother 'em," said Fausett, who blocked five shots and had four steals to go along with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the game, in which Westlake outscored Weber 22-10 in a decisive third quarter.
— Randy Hollis
Stockton Shorts leads Copper Hills in opener
OREM — In case you were wondering, Copper Hills senior forward Stockton Shorts is absolutely named after former Utah Jazz great John Stockton.
With both his parents being enormous Jazz fans, they were sure to name their son after the NBA's all-time assists holder and Hall of Famer.
As can be imagined, Shorts has been asked about the origin of his name, while maybe enduring a few jokes about it. But for the 6-foot-4 senior, he doesn't mind any of it.
“I never get sick of it,” Shorts said.
Although he's named after the former Jazz point guard, his game probably more resembles that of former Jazzman Karl Malone. During Tuesday's 63-41 win over Syracuse, Shorts scored 15 points, most of them coming from the low-post while bringing down 12 rebounds.
“I wish I could play like John Stockton, but I can’t,” Shorts said, with a laugh.
— Brandon Gurney
Simi Fehoko shines in first game back from injury
OGDEN — Simi Fehoko returned from a month-long ligament injury in his right hand to lead the Bengals with 20 points in the 5A first-round win over Brighton. Just as important was the calming sensation he brought to his teammates.
“It was huge having him back. He’s a key player for us, he’s helped out a lot,” said Brighton forward Chayse Mims.
Added Brighton coach Jeff Gardner, “Huge lift for us. He’s our captain, he’s a leader, he’s just such a phenomenal athlete that he lifts everybody else up.”
He’s the second-straight high-profile Brighton football player — joining Osa Masina from last season — who didn’t focus exclusively on one sports his senior year.
Fehoko was named Deseret News Mr. Football recipient last fall and has signed with Stanford. Masina just finished his freshman season with USC’s football program, but before he left he was an integral part of leading Brighton’s basketball team to last year’s 5A title game.
“To (Fehoko’s) credit, (he's) obviously a high-profile football player could’ve easily just said, ‘Hey I’m gonna go focus on football.’ But the Brighton team and kids and the community and basketball program means a lot to him and it was great to see him shine tonight,” said Gardner.
Gardner said a great working relationship with Brighton’s athletic department helps plays excel in multiple sports.
“Credit to our athletic department who truly supports each other. Coach (Ryan) Bullett, we’re tight. He helps me in basketball. I don’t know anything about football so I don’t help him in football We support each other. It’s not two programs fighting it’s two programs helping each other.”
— James Edward
Unheralded Doman saves day for Lone Peak
Despite failing to score a single point all game, Lone Peak head coach David Evans said it was guard Tyson Doman who made the biggest impact in his team's 79-66 first-round win against Mountain Crest Tuesday night.
“The biggest thing tonight was Tyson Doman. We had him guard (Jxon) Brenchley in the second half and he did a really, really good job. When people turn their backs, he’s going to be there and try to get the ball,” Evans said. “He makes things happen because he just plays so hard. I don’t know if he scored a point, but he made probably the biggest difference for us there in the second half.”
Doman volunteered to guard star forward Brenchley, who dominated the first half and finished with 23 points and nine rebounds and was able to contain him in the second half to help Lone Peak go on a run and escape with the win.
Doman and Talmage Gunther teamed up in the backcourt and forced the Mustangs into a plethora of turnovers to help spark an 18-2 run to start the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach.Comment on this story
“Tyson just said, ‘I got him.’ On offense, he didn’t touch the ball as much, but he sacrificed that to go play as good as defense as he could on him and he did a really, really good job. My job was just to double-team on a screen and it really helped us in the fourth quarter,” Gunther said. — Ryan Lovean and Talmage Gunther teamed up in the backcourt and forced the Mustangs into a plethora of turnovers to help spark an 18-2 run to start the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach.
“Tyson just said, ‘I got him.’ On offense, he didn’t touch the ball as much, but he sacrificed that to go play as good as defense as he could on him and he did a really, really good job. My job was just to double-team on a screen and it really helped us in the fourth quarter,” Gunther said.
— Ryan Love
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org