OGDEN — Although Corner Canyon is still relatively new as a high school, earning a boys basketball championship was a long time coming for all involved, making Saturday's 62-45 5A championship win over Jordan particularly special.
Special for Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt, who has come up just short time and again over his 26-year prep coaching career, although Lunt was quick to deflect any personal attention to his deserving players amidst the raucous postgame celebration at the Dee Event Center floor.
"It's awesome, but it's about the kids," Lunt said. "They keep me young, and they keep me going. I'm just happy being around them."
As for Lunt's kids out on the court, they were at least as good as they've been all tournament in taking the win. From the outset tournament MVP Hayden Welling dominated the paint with his 6-foot-9 frame to the tune of a game-high 29 points scored and 15 rebounds.
"He's a great kid and he's a special player, along with everybody else on this team," Lunt said. "That's what made us good. They bought into doing their role. When we do our role, we're pretty good."
While Welling was good throughout on Saturday, it took a half of play and some pointed words from Lunt to get Gabe Toombs going. Prolific on the stat sheet all tournament long, the 6-4 senior forward left the first half with just one point on 0-5 shooting from the field.
"Coach really let me hear it at the half," Toombs said. "He yelled at me pretty good and just told me to finish it. So that's what I tried to do out there."
Toombs woke up in earnest from the opening moments of the second half, helping extend a slim 19-18 halftime lead to 32-22 midway through the third quarter. Toombs finished the third quarter scoring nine of his 14 point game total while providing a necessary spark en route to a commanding 40-28 lead entering the fourth.
Nothing was let up during the final eight minutes until Lunt emptied his bench with just under a minute remaining, as the Chargers rushed out to a 50-33 lead late and then coasted all the way to the win.
"This just feels amazing. All the hard work we've put in and everything we've been through together," Welling said. "It just feels incredible right now. It means so much."
Welling has been a main part of his team since his sophomore year and has helped provide the gradual progression necessary to capture Saturday's historic moment.
"This is the icing on the cake of the great journey we've had here," Lunt said. "I came here three years ago and we made the semi(final round) my first year, the finals last year and then got it this year. So it's been a process and a great journey. That's where the memories are made — getting to this moment."
A year ago the Chargers were ushered out of the championship game by a dominating Olympus team. This time around they beat that same Olympus team in the semifinal round to earn a matchup with Region 7 foe Jordan, the same team that handed them two narrow losses in the regular season.
"Losing that region championship on senior night hurt, so to get back here with a chance to make it right is just awesome," Toombs said, recalling a tough 49-47 loss to the Beetdiggers to end the regular season. "Jordan is a great team, so beating them here for the championship — it's just awesome."
Jordan was led by Dyson Koehler throughout the tournament and again on Saturday, with the junior forward scoring 13 points with Tevita Mafileo adding 11. But cold 30-percent shooting from the field ultimately did the Beetdiggers in as they had trouble matching the Charger attack throughout.
"We were comfortable playing these guys having seen them before, so I definitely feel that helped calm some nerves coming in," Toombs said. "But like I said, Jordan is a great team and we had to be at our best to take it tonight. We made history tonight for our school and that's an amazing feeling. People will remember this forever."
Deseret News 5A All-tournament team
- MVP — Hayden Welling, Corner Canyon
- Gabe Toombs, Corner Canyon
- Dyson Koehler, Jordan
- Tevita Mafileo, Jordan
- Rylan Jones, Olympus
- Taylor Zwick, East