OGDEN Bingham center Ben Clifford created a buzz at Weber State on Monday night.
Some people wondered where he was going to play college ball. A Division I program had to be where he's headed, they said, after the way he dominated against Weber in the first round of the class 5A boys state tournament.
Bad news for the rest of 5A, and good news for recruiters: He's only a sophomore.
Clifford ruled both ends of the floor against the Warriors, as he had 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots in Bingham's 46-35 win. The Miners advanced to play upset-minded Clearfield, which defeated Pleasant Grove in Monday's late game.
"There's no question Clifford was a man among boys tonight," said Bingham coach Mark Dubach. "As a sophomore, that's one of the greatest performances I've seen in the tournament. He was tremendous."
Clifford's production on offense was key, as he was the only Miner to score in double figures. But how he anchored Bingham's defense was phenomenal. The Warriors hardly bothered to drive inside the key with Clifford in there, and when they did they were seldom successful.
Weber made 11 shots against Bingham, and five of them were 3-pointers.
"I thought defensively we did a good job the whole way," Dubach said. "Really, the only points they got were, they converted some fast breaks and hurt us a little early. And then they made a 3-pointer when I got out of our man defense, and they made a halfcourt 3."
The halfcourt 3-pointer was made by Weber's Josh Hogge as time expired in the first half. The basket seemed as if it was going to give the Warriors some momentum to build on after halftime, as it cut Bingham's lead to 21-19.
But the exact opposite occurred.
The Miners clamped down on the Warriors like a vise, forcing them to shoot a paltry 13 percent from the field in the second half. They kept Weber off the scoreboard for close to six minutes to open the second half, and gave up just three points in the third quarter.
"We just got after it more," Clifford said. "That's happened to us before (a halfcourt shot made just before halftime), so we knew how to control it. We kept them out of the key and we rebounded well."The Miners waxed Weber on the boards, holding a 48-28 edge in rebounds.
Top performer: Bingham's Ben Clifford had 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Key stat: Weber shot 13 percent from the field in the first half, and just 22 percent in the game.Up next: Quarterfinals: Bingham vs. Clearfield, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]