5A semifinals notebook: Parker and Lokotui prove big for Bingham
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Few teams are just about the star players, something Bingham has proven in all three games played so far in the 5A state playoffs.
In Friday's 71-42 demolition of Layton, it was guards Lleyton Parker and Simote Lokotui's turn to stand out. Parker, a starter, provided his typical great defensive effort while adding 14 points and four assists.
“Lleyton’s been great,” said Bingham coach Jake Schroeder. “Offensively he scored pretty good for us tonight and defensively he’s phenomenal. He gets his hands on so many balls.”
As for Lokotui, he came off the bench to put up some sweet stats, including 11 points on 5-5 shooting from the field while adding two steals.
"I thought Simote was really big for us tonight," Schroeder said.
Schroeder will lean on both players come Saturday's championship game versus Copper Hills.
"Lleyton and Simote were big for us tonight and I believe they'll both be big for us again in tomorrow's game," Schroeder said.
Copper Hills continues late surge defensively
For Copper Hills, the game plan is always to hold opponents to 12 points or less per quarter.
It’s a philosophy coach Andrew Blanchard picked up from West Jordan coach Scott Briggs when he was one of his assistant coaches for several years.
In Friday’s semifinal win over Westlake, the Grizzlies were even better than that holding the Thunder to just 10 points per quarter in the convincing 58-40 victory.
“Blanchard has done a huge job of focusing on defense, defense, defense. He wants us to get as many stops as we can cause he knows our offense will come,” said Copper Hills forward Stockton Shorts.
Getting stops didn’t come easy for Copper Hills during a four-game stretch in early February in which it went 2-2 and surrendered an average of 69.5 points.
It refocused after the rough stretch, and in the five games since — all wins — it’s only conceding 47.2 ppg.
One of Copper Hills’ biggest concerns on Friday was slowing down Westlake’s Asa McCord.
“He is so good at getting to the rim so we really wanted to focus on staying in front of him and making sure he didn’t get past us where we’d see the back of his jersey. We did that for the most part,” said Blanchard.
McCord still finished with a game-high 19 points, but most of that damage came in the second half after Copper Hills had already set the tone.
McCord finished the game 7 of 14 from the field, but everyone else on the team was 8 of 35.
Much of that credit goes to Copper Hills and its commitment to defense.
— James Edward