My eyeballs are still bouncing up and down from watching 30 high school basketball games in six days last week at the Dee Events Center.
My ears are still ringing from the piercing shrill of referees' whistles, screaming fans and students chanting, "Down, down, down . . ." and, "Overrated!" and, "Your season's over!" My stomach's still feeling the repercussions of having snarfed down way too many nachos with jalapenos, hot dogs, more nachos and gallons of flat Diet Coke.
And ya know what?
Part of me — that crazy masochistic part — can't wait for it to all happen again next year. Until then, these are a few things I'll remember from last week's adventures from my exciting week of imprisonment at Weber State:
BEST PLAY TO TELL GRANDKIDS ABOUT: Brighton sophomore Andrew Smart, having never even shot a 3-pointer in a high school game, hucked up a beauty from beyond the arc at the buzzer against Bingham in the 5A semifinals. It snapped the nets, giving the Bengals a thrilling 43-40 victory in what was hands-down the best of the week's 30 games.
BEST REASON TO PLAY (FOR FOOD): Simply for taking charges during the tournament, Bonneville's Jay Banner earned himself a dinner at Tony Roma's and Timpview's Mike Ferriera tallied his 22nd Zuka Juice of the year. Just wondering, coaches, any room for a short, fat sports writer on your squads?
BEST REDHEADS THIS SIDE OF RICHIE CUNNINGHAM: Last week was a great one to be a carrot top. Copper Hills' Brandon Lord and Jared Johnson had their own cheering section with T-shirts and wigs who chanted "Redhead" every time they did something good. Which was quite often. The two sparkled while leading Copper Hills to the school's first state championship. There was also the big redheaded Viking from Pleasant Grove, who starred in the . . .
BEST SEQUEL — SLASH OF THE TITANS II: Erek Bond and the PG boys pulled off the deja vu instant replay moment of the week, shocking Olympus 56-53. As in 1999, the first-round game was played at 9:10 p.m. at the Dee Events Center, and nobody expected the Vikes to win. Bond had the game of the tourney in the upset, racking up 30 points and 10 rebounds.
BEST KOJAK MOMENT:Inspired by his older brother, 1999 Mr. Basketball Tim Henry, Mountain View junior Dan Henry shaved his head for the playoffs. The aerodynamics helped out as he notched his first high school dunk in the opening game. He also had 21 points, 10 rebounds and three steals in Game 1.
PLAYER WHOSE STOCK SOARED MOST: Timpview's Steve Espersen, an unknown commodity outside of Utah County during the regular season, exploded with a fantastic four-game flurry. The athletic 6-foot-6 forward averaged 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in carrying the T-Birds to the 4A crown. Said Timpview coach Perry Wildeboer: "Nobody knew who he was, but after this tourney you can't tell me he can't play Division I basketball. He's the MVP."
BEST 'WE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO' SCHOOL: The most spirited crowd in a nonchampionship role was the rowdy bunch of Bobcats from Sky View. They came in droves from Smithfield for the first round and quarterfinals. The students were so excited for their second game, in fact, that Sky View coach Terrell Baldwin spent much of Thursday morning going from classroom to classroom, giving the anxious kids a scouting report on Timpview.
NOT QUITE VINCE CARTER, BUT BEST UTAH DUNKERS: Early in his semifinal game, Brighton's Garner Meads had the dunk most likely to register on the Richter scale and show up on Preps SportsCenter. He broke out into the open, steamrolled toward the basket and about brought down the backboard with a booming two-handed monster jam while being fouled. He also had a sweet double-pump slam in the championship.
OTHER BEST GRAND SLAMS: In the 4A championship, Timpview's Steve Espersen skyed and ferociously put down a missed shot . . . Riverton's Skyler Wilson cut through the lane and took the paint of the rim with a mean slam . . . Mountain View's Seth Scott also had some dynamic dunks.
BEST REASON TO LOSE: When asked what he told his squad after their devastating 43-40 loss at the buzzer in the semis, Bingham's George Sluga had a curious response: "Something in the future." He went on to explain that he believes his boys will need to draw from this experience sometime down the line.
MOST IRONIC CHEER: Hardly any Brighton High students showed up for the Bengals' quarterfinal game, so four middle-aged women supporters took it upon themselves to do some trash-talking. At the end of Brighton's 46-38 win over Riverton, they started to chant "Warm up the bus!" Only minutes later, the PA announcer made the following coincidental announcement: "Would the Layton High bus driver please show up to your bus."
BEST QUOTE BY A PLAYER: This from Brighton's Mark Mawhinney, always one for a good quote, after his team's last-second win over Bingham: "I know a lot of big words, but I don't have the vocabulary to describe this. I'm at a loss for words. Usually I can talk for days, but I'm speechless now."
BEST MARY LOU RHETTON IMPRESSION: The most athletic kid on the court last week might very well have been Matt Hardman, who was the big, limber, high-flying cheerleader from Lone Peak. Serious. This boy was amazing. Crowds from both schools cheered him on each time he flipped out, so to speak. Even Steve Young, who was in the crowd on Friday, was awed by the twists and jumps and backhandstandloopdeydoops the guy could do.
BEST TOUCHING MOMENTS: Copper Hills sharpshooter Jared Johnson was so excited at the end of the Grizzlies' surprise win over Mountain View that he grabbed his buddy Brandon Lord and embraced him. The best part is that Lord was still dribbling the ball with about 15 seconds remaining in the semifinal game. There was still time on the clock in the championship game when Johnson went over and gave his coach, John Bosco, a big bear hug, too . . . Following the 4A game, Timpview's Michael Ferriera and Steve Espersen clutched each other for minutes as tears of joy flowed.
DUMBEST THING WRITTEN BY A SPORTS WRITER: In order to protect the clueless journalist, we won't name any names. But some lame-brain actually made these predictions — Cottonwood over Copper Hills; Mountain View over Copper Hills; and Brighton over Copper Hills.
BEST STATS: Most steals — Sky View's Nate Harris (five vs. Woods Cross), Olympus' Marc Jackson (five vs. Pleasant Grove); Most rebounds — Cottonwood's Derek Dawes (16 vs. Copper Hills); Most blocked shots — Dawes (six vs. Copper Hills); Most points — Pleasant Grove's Erek Bond (30 vs. Olympus); Most assists — Bonneville's Clint Pedersen (eight vs. Murray).