Prep boys' basketball • Alta will return most of its scoring next season.
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Sandy • Trevor Hill always has done what the Alta coaches have asked of him. Distribute the ball, guard the opposing team's best player, be a leader on the floor.
After the Hawks lost three times in a two-weeks stretch at the start of region play in January, Alta coach Jim Barker had another request for his junior point guard: Score the ball.
"It was sort of difficult at the start," Hill said. "Last year we had a lot of different players who could handle the ball. This year it changed, and I just had to step up and be confident."
That confidence emerged with a career-high 23-point performance in a victory against West Jordan, a win that kick-started a 10-game winning streak and vaulted Alta into the Class 5A state championship game last weekend.
Hill increased his scoring by nearly four points per game over the final half of the season as Alta (16-9) placed second in Region 3 and reached the state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2010.
"After we lost to Jordan, we talked about Trevor needing to get the ball in his hands and take over at the end of the game," Barker said. "You saw that in the state tournament. As we got to the end of those games, he was always the one who seemed like he had the ball. He stepped up and took that role really well."
And he did it while injured. Barker said his guard played the final few weeks on a sprained ankle.
"He had to stay off his feet a lot, and that kind of affected his shooting down the stretch and in the state tournament," Barker said.
The late-season push may not have surprised the players and coaches "Coach said he believed in us all year. We just had to believe in ourselves. That's what we did last week," Hill said but it was improbable, considering the Hawks' lack of size.
Alta lost its tallest player, 6-foot-7 Jacob Farnsworth, to a knee injury and 6-6 forward Elijah Glissmeyer didn't play until the final two weeks of the season because of injuries he sustained in the fall.
That left 6-3 junior forward Carter Heslop bodying up players 5, 6, even 9 inches taller than him in the post. In the state tournament alone, Alta faced Bingham's Brandon Morley (7-foot), Weber's Jordan Jones (6-8), American Fork's Ryan Andrus (6-10) and Lone Peak's Eric Mika (6-10).
"In every game, we gave up major height to these teams," Barker said. "Carter did a heck of a job playing defense against some really big guys. He played them really tough, I thought."
Alta graduates four seniors, but only guard RJ Beard averaged more than two points per game.