I think I just play bigger than I am and I don’t care who I go up against. I say, ‘I’m just going to play as hard as I can and do what I do. —Bingham's Yoeli Childs
LAS VEGAS — Bingham's Yoeli Childs wasn't scared going in. He's been there before.
Going up against not one, but two 6-foot-10, 4-star prospects committed to play for UCLA next season, the Miners' undersized big man didn't back down Thursday at the Jerry Tarkanian Classic.
He never does.
“I think I just play bigger than I am and I don’t care who I go up against,” Childs said. “I say, ‘I’m just going to play as hard as I can and do what I do.’”
Childs scored a team-high 19 points for the Miners, who got past Corona Centennial (California) 80-68 to advance to the semifinal round, playing in the Platinum Division of the annual Las Vegas tournament. He also worked to limit scoring opportunities for both Ike Anigbogu and Jalen Hill, Corona's twin towers who will be playing at Pauley Pavilion in the near future.
Childs' effectiveness at both ends got the Miners out of the gate running. A 13-0 run after the Huskies scored the game's first two points put the Miners securely ahead for the duration of the game.
A sticky moment came around the eight-minute mark of the first half with Bingham leading 26-6 when Childs collected his second foul. However, the team pushed through it. Playing confidently off the bench in place of Childs was junior Branden Carlson, who helped his team to a 42-21 lead at the half.
“I’d be lying if (I said) it didn’t hurt us,” said Bingham coach Jake Schroeder of Childs' foul trouble. “But we have a young junior, Branden Carlson, who has come a long, long way and he’s going to be a good player for us. Hes stepped up and filled Yoeli’s shoes.”
Carlson finished the game with just four points but worked hard to limit inside scoring opportunities for both Anigbodu and Hill. Other key contributors for the Miners included Schyler Shoemaker, Dason Youngblood and Samuta Avea, who scored 17, 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“Guys stepped up,” Childs said. “Branden Carlson was big for us, Samuta (Avea) was grabbing boards and our guards really handled the pressure well."
Bingham was seemingly cruising toward victory when Childs fouled out of the game with 5:24 remaining with the Miners holding a 66-43 lead. From there, Corona began to hit its stride, particularly Anigbodu, who put on a dunking clinic en route to his game-high 24 points, 12 of which came during the game's final five minutes.
The final five minutes proved stressful for Schroeder, due to some miscues and Anigbodu's dominance inside.
“It was real tough when we couldn’t get a stop, but (Corona is) just that good,” Schroeder said. “We just kind of had to hold on, but I don’t think it’s that close if we just made some more foul shots.”
Corona managed to get within 10, 76-66, with just over three minutes remaining, but it's as close as things got.
As for Childs, he again proved able to more than hold his own against a couple of the nation's best. Although he's listed at 6-foot-8, Schroeder disputes the listing, while adding that his height doesn't matter, much as it didn't on Thursday.
“He’ll say he’s 6-(foot)-8, 6-7, but he’s 6-5, maybe 6-6,” Schroeder said. “He plays a lot bigger than he is and he has all the experience playing with his (AAU) team in the summer. And he’s fearless.”
Due to his size, Childs, who signed with BYU, wasn't as highly recruited as Corona's twin towers, perhaps contributing to an attitude he uses to withstand whatever height differential he faces.
“He loves to have a chip on his shoulder. He always as one,” Schroeder said. “Like I said, he’s fearless and BYU is getting a special kid. Coach (Dave) Rose is going to have a lot of fun coaching him.”
With the win, Bingham advances to the semifinal round where it will face Overland (Colorado).