Prep basketball: Sophomores coming up big for Alta
Sandy • In the waning moments of Alta's 1-point victory at Brighton last week, sophomore Landon Albrecht was knocking down a crucial 3-pointer while fellow 10th-grader Trevor Hill was draped all over Brighton's best player, Brandon Miller, during the game's most precarious moments.
Their point totals 8 combined weren't that auspicious, but their impact on the game drew raves, as has been the case all season.
"We're just really impressed with the contributions of our sophomores," said senior teammate Jarrett Anderson who leads the team with 13 points per game. "Landon is hitting big shots for us and giving us a presence down low, and Trevor is so quick he's already our best defender."
While the Hawks have surprised many with their 9-2 start, Alta coach Jim Barker knew he had something when the young guys meshed with the veterans well enough to win several summer tournaments. Barker said while some upperclassman might be threatened by sophomores in the starting lineup, his group of five seniors welcomed the kids with open arms.
"Our guys just shared such a desire to win, they realized early on that we needed these guys to be competitive," he said.
After last season's subpar 11-12 campaign, the drive to get the Hawks back to 5A contender status is never far from Hill's mind.
"Landon and I just want to go out and work as hard as we can every day and take this as far as we can for the seniors," said Hill.
At 6-foot-6, Albrecht is already showing signs of a player not afraid of the big moment. Having made just five 3s all season, Albrecht calmly drained a pair of third-quarter triples that kept the Hawks in front entering the final period.
"I worked on that shot a lot this summer," said Albrecht. "I'm not afraid to take a big shot because of the confidence those guys give me."
While the Hawks aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut they average 55 points per game it's a rock-solid defense (46 ppg allowed) that Alta players are most proud of.
"Coach told us early in the year that we're not the most talented team offensively, but if we compete on defense and play harder than our opponents, we'll be in every game," said senior guard Zack Zdunich.
Barker thinks both of his sophomore starters will need to get stronger and develop as scorers, but he's pleased with their foundation.
"We weren't scared to play these guys because we saw what they did this summer," said Barker. "Landon's positioning and scheme always puts him in the right spot, and when he puts on some weight, he's going to be a really good defender."
As the Hawks (13-3, 4-1)enter the stretch run, Barker is encouraged by the lessons learned.
"We gave up that big run to West Jordan in the final quarter but I thought we had good shots and we just didn't hit them," he said. "Against Brighton, similar atmosphere, I thought our kids did a good job of maintaining an aggressive mindset."
About the Alta Hawks
It's no surprise that Alta sophomores Trevor Hill and Landon Albrecht have an innate sense of how to play sports together. The pair met at an indoor soccer league as 5-year-olds and have been playing on the same basketball team most of their lives.
Alta seniors Jarrett Anderson, Zack Zdunich and Dub Price do the bulk of the offensive damage for a 13-3 Hawks squad by combining to average 31.2 points per game. The trio were all bit players during the Hawks' championship run in 2010.
With two sophomore starters, Trevor Hill and Landon Albrecht, the Hawks weren't supposed to be this good this fast. Hawks Coach Jim Barker said a summer of playing together and a December trip to Arizona solidified his squad.
Alta and West Jordan both entered the week with 4-1 region records. The Jags used a 16-2 fourth-quarter run to defeat the Hawks 65-54 on Jan. 20. The rematch at Alta is scheduled for Feb. 10.