High school boys basketball: MVPs were catalysts to state titles
Courtesy photos and Deseret News
Two were big men and three were guards, but regardless of the position they played, the 2015-16 Deseret News high school boys basketball MVPs were gamers who regularly came up big in the clutch for their respective state title teams.
All five could score, but they were anything but one-dimensional as the quintet excelled in other areas, whether it was dominating the boards or dishing out assists.
Here’s a list of this year’s MVPs as picked by the Deseret News. The first- second- and third-team selections were voted on by the coaches:
Yoeli Childs, Bingham
In the last game of his sophomore season, Childs had a monster performance with 22 points and 17 rebounds in Bingham’s dramatic double-overtime loss to eventual champ Lone Peak.
Bingham coach Jake Schroeder said Childs left the Huntsman Center that night a different player than when he arrived.
“I think he started to really see just how good he can be,” said Schroeder.
He’s reached that potential the past two years averaging a double-double in points and rebounds, and this year leading Bingham to its first 5A state championship in a decade.
“The one thing that made Yo so good and so dominant is he’s a competitor. He hates to lose,” said Schroeder.
Childs never had a problem sacrificing his own stats for the betterment of the team, and Schroeder said that unselfishness was a big reason for the Miners’ success in 2016.
Childs finished ninth in 5A averaging 17.8 points this season and led 5A in rebounding at 10.3 rpg. He finished with 16 double-doubles.
He became a pretty deadly 3-point shooter as well, a testament to his work ethic. As a junior, he made 10 3-pointers all year, but this season he made 41 3-pointers while shooting 46 percent behind the arc.
“That will be the best thing for him at the next level. Seeing what he needs to work on and busting his butt to get better. I think the sky’s the limit for him,” said Schroeder.
An incredible leaper too, Childs’ dunks were as commonplace as his 3-pointers, versatility that Schroeder said will endear him to BYU fans in the coming years.
Isaac Monson, Olympus
Twenty players in Class 4A averaged more points than Olympus big man Isaac Monson this season, but that stat only scratches at the surface of his importance.
In addition to averaging 14.3 points, he led 4A in rebounding at 10.5 rpg and incredibly finished 10th in assists averaging 3.6 per game while playing at center.
“The thing about Isaac, he wasn’t a very vocal person, he wasn’t loud, he just came to work every day and you just knew you could count on him. His teammates knew they could count on him not only for his scoring but his rebounding,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes.
He got better as the season went on. He had one double-digit rebounding game in Olympus’ first eight this season. After that, he had double-digit rebounds in 17 of the Titans’ last 19 games — including 15 in the championship game victory over Timpview.
“He’s not the most athletic kid, he’s not the highest jumper. But he’s a very intelligent, smart, hard worker. He knows the angles,” said Barnes. “He had a great feel for it, great knack. Very determined.”
Barnes jokes that Monson wasn’t very good his freshman year in the program, but he knew he had potential based on the success of his older brothers. He finally started to blossom midway through his junior season and then as a senior became a major contributor to the school’s first basketball title.
His versatility was obvious throughout the state tourney as he averaged 17.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. In the first round he scored 32 points against Box Elder, one shy of his career high.
In the championship game, he scored only eight points, but he dished out his sixth assist on a high-low play that gave Olympus the lead for good late in the game. At the other end, he corralled a huge defensive rebound despite being surrounded by four Timpview players.
That reliability was the difference for the state champs.
Tyler Bennett, Dixie
With the school’s first state title in 45 years within reach, Tyler Bennett wasn’t about to be denied again.
A year after the Flyers came up three points short in the state title game, Bennett took over in this year’s 3A championship by scoring 30 points to lead Dixie to its first championship since 1970.
Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said it was ironic that Bennett scored 30 in his last high school basketball game because it’s something he was never asked to do.
“He’s the type of player that could’ve done that every game as we spread the floor. But he was so unselfish and he got other guys involved and that made us a better team,” said Cuff
Instead of averaging 30 points on a team that didn’t develop complementary players, Bennett averaged 21.4 points during his senior season to go along with his 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals.
His unselfishness allowed everyone else to play a larger role, which came in handy on nights when Bennett was a bit off.
In the championship, though, against a Juan Diego team that liked to play up tempo like Dixie, Bennett took a lot of the scoring load on himself, particularly in the third quarter as the Flyers pulled away.
Bennett’s 30-point game was the third-best of his career, a fantastic three-year career that Cuff said is going to be difficult to move past.
“The thing that I admire the most about Tyler, whether he’s on the court or off the court, he makes everyone around him better. Very unselfish,” said Cuff, who’s adamant that Bennett can play at the next level if given a shot.
Darrin Gethers, Summit Academy
Intensely competitive, Summit Academy point guard Darrin Gethers was the difference maker for the state-champion Bears this season.
The 5-foot-10 guard finished third in 2A in scoring (20.5 ppg), second in assists (5.2 apg) and first in steals (4.5 spg).
“For being a little guy he’s very competitive, and maybe that’s because he’s a little guy,” said Summit Academy coach Evric Gray. “He’s real passionate on the floor and off and people misunderstand him sometimes. He’s really a team guy first and then being a good player. He can turn it on when he wants and he knows how to keep everybody involved.”
Gethers led Summit Academy in scoring on most nights, including in the state tournament when he scored 26, 24, 19 and 24 respectively in the four games.
In the title game, Gethers matched Layton Christian’s Mark Burton shot for shot and scored 24 points in a fantastic final that the Bears eked out, 64-63.
In a game against Delta on Jan. 8, Gethers nearly had a quadruple double with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals.
“If you have a point guard at any level you’re going to be OK. They control everything. He was very good on D. A lot of his points came off steals. We always preach let’s let our defense be our offense,” said Gray, who added that Gethers’ football instincts contributed to a lot of the steals.
Gray said it took Gethers a few games this preseason to truly trust his teammates, but once he did Summit Academy became virtually unstoppable.
Tyus Millhollin, Diamond Ranch
In his first game with Diamond Ranch last November, Tyus Millhollin scored 30 points to go along with his nine assists and seven steals.
He never slowed down.
The California native scored in double figures in every game but two in leading Diamond Ranch to its first-ever boys basketball state title.
“Tyus came in and there’s no lacking of confidence in that young man. He’s a natural born leader. For him when he gets on the floor he expects a lot out of his teammates,” said Diamond Ranch coach Trevor Jenson. “There’s no doubt when he’s on the floor with the ball who’s in charge. He’ll move people around to put everyone in positions to be successful.”
He finished second in 1A in scoring with 22.4 ppg, and was first in both steals (4.6 spg) and assists (7.0 apg).
“It’s amazing to see somebody score 23 points a game and also average seven assists,” said Jenson.
In the 1A semifinals, Millhollin scored nearly as many points (35) as Parowan as the Diamond Backs rolled to a 68-38 win.
In the championship he recorded 21 points, six steals and seven assists to lead Diamond Ranch past Rich 62-57.
As one coach in 1A put it, “Tyus was probably the most complete and difficult player to deal with in 1A this year. He has unlimited range and amazing ball handling skills.”
Before enrolling at the residential treatment academy in Hurricane, Millhollin was garnering looks from several colleges. Jenson said he hopes the 6-foot-1 guard will still get a chance to play at the next level.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: email@example.com