WEST VALLEY CITY — Yikes! It was that eye-opening.
Lone Peak (22-3) strung together one of the most efficient halves of high school basketball in Utah state history, and used that swagger deep into the second half to claim its second straight 5A championship 68-38 against Brighton.
In the first 16 minutes, the Knights' hit nine 3-pointers, shot 56.7 and 80 percent from the field and free-throw line, racked up 10 assists, led in fast-break points, 15-2 and built a 30-point lead.
Nick Emery, Lone Peak's prolific junior scorer, has received the majority of publicity and accolades throughout the season, and justifiably so.
However, the Knights' success in the four games during the state tournament is attributed to sophomore T.J. Haws.
"He's really been on a roll for about three weeks," Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said about Haws. "He made a few adjustments in his game that he needed to and by doing those it really made him a better player."
In blowout games against Kearns and Northridge in the opening rounds, Haws poured in 11 and 16 points, despite spending large portions of time on the bench during mop-up periods.
Then, in the semifinal and championship games against West Jordan and Brighton, Haws earned his own constellation as a bonafide star.
Against the Jaguars, the 6-foot-4 slashing guard dropped 22 points with four 4-pointers while adding five rebounds and five dimes.
In the title game, Haws bucketed 24 points, four treys, six boards and three assists. In the first half, he helped Lone Peak sprint to a 47-17 lead at intermission with 22 points.
"People talk about his red hair. He puts it red-hot," Emery quipped about Haws. "Holy, he shot so well this tournament. He was huge for us. I'll be playing with him another year next year, hopefully we can make it a three-peat. T.J. is an awesome player."
Haws was awarded the tournament MVP after finishing with 73 points, 11 3-pointers, 23 rebounds, 13 assists and nine steals in the four-game streak.
"He plays with confidence and with toughness," said Lewis. "Some guys are doing something else — they're out with their girlfriend. These guys are going to the gym. They're working at 6 a.m. in the middle of July. There's a reason why he's good."