By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography) & Kevin McInnis
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Opponents tried a lot of different things in hopes of knocking off the talented 2015-2016 Bingham High boys basketball team, but few had success. The Miners dominating run through the 5A classification made them No. 11 in our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year.
#11 – Bingham hoops lives up to the hype
Sometimes the hardest thing to do in sports is for a talented team to live up to all of the expectations that are placed upon it. No one was surprised when this year’s Bingham High boys basketball team was in the running for the top spot in the state from the beginning of the year, including the Miners, but this team lived up to all the hype with a 24-2 overall record, 12-0 in Region 3 play.
Early on, there were a couple of stumbles, but they came against high-level competition. Bingham lost to Region 3 rival Copper Hills in the championship game of the Elite 8 preseason tournament at American Fork High and then dropped a game at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas to Overland from Aurora, Colorado.
As it turns out, those were the only two losses of the year for the Miners. Overland finished the year as the Colorado Class 5A state champion and No. 24 in the final MaxPreps national rankings, one spot ahead of Bingham, which finished No. 25 to close out its impressive campaign.
As for Copper Hills, the Miners had multiple chances to avenge that loss and they did so three times. Bingham won its home region game against the Grizzlies 73-64 and beat Copper Hills on the road 66-59. Those were all just prep work for the main event as the Miners made it 3-of-4 against the Grizzlies with a 61-44 win in the state championship contest.
Along the way, teams tried all sorts of tactics against Bingham and some of them worked, at least a little bit. There was the West Jordan game in which the Jaguars essentially took the air out of the ball and tried to stall their way to a win. It slowed the Miners down for three quarters, and it was the most frustrating night of the year for Bingham superstar Yoeli Childs, but in the fourth, Schyler Shoemaker got hot and helped deliver the Miners’ victory.
As the state tournament came around, Bingham pounded Viewmont 70-32 and then survived a really difficult second-round matchup against a talented American Fork team. With the Cavemen missing one of their top players, Brendan Bailey, due to injury, Spencer Johnson played through foul trouble and made the Miners earn everything they got, which turned out to be a 71-57 win.
In its 71-42 semifinal win over Layton, Bingham benefited from an incredibly well-rounded dominant performance from Childs to set up a fantastic team effort in the title rematch with Copper Hills that brought home the state championship.
Two things the Miners were extremely good at made the title chase successful – amazing defense and the ability to close out games. This team was at its best in the second half.
For the season, Childs scored nearly 18 points per night and pulled down just over 10 boards a game to lead the way for Bingham. Samuta Avea, who moved in from Hawaii before the season, emerged as a versatile two-way performer and incredibly athletic complement to Childs. Avea was one of the state’s most talented rebounders.
Lleyton Parker, Dason Youngblood and Shoemaker each had huge moments throughout the year, and Shoemaker was the MVP of the state tournament win. Also critical to the Miners’s success was a talented bench, led by Simote Lokotui and Brady Atkin, a pair of tough defenders and clutch performers. It was the recipe for a title for head coach Jake Schroeder and Bingham, a title that lived up to all the expectations.
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