Orem • The shrill sound of the whoops and hollers bounced around the walls of the locker room and danced out into the hall, where straggling Bingham Miners still were coming in from the court, eager to join their teammates’ joyous scrum.
The Miners had taken Overland (Colo.), considered to be one of the most talented teams in Colorado, to the brink for 32 minutes. And once they had gotten them there, the Miners pushed the Traiblazers, along with their phenom big man De’Ron Davis, over the edge.
Now it was time to enjoy the spoils of victory.
"Even though they’re higher than us in rankings and stuff, we know that both teams have just got to go out there and play," Bingham sophomore center Yoeli Childs said with smooth confidence.
Just like that, with a 71-65 win over the Trailblazers on Saturday afternoon on the final day of Orem’s Great Western Shootout, the Miners erased any lingering remnants of an early season swoon that began in the season opener with a blown fourth-quarter lead against Riverton.
"When we lose a game, we always learn from it," said Childs, who had 10 points and six rebounds. "That Riverton game, I think it helped us out this weekend."
At the outset of the Great Western Shootout, many believed the Miners were the weakest of the eight participating teams. It was not so much a criticism of the Miners as it was a testament to the level of the competition they’d face, which included several of the best players and teams in the country.
"I thought we would be [the weakest team], too, to be honest with you," Bingham coach Jake Schroeder said. "I think the perceptions were definitely right on — we were 0-2 coming in."
Then the Miners beat Virginia powerhouse Bishop O’Connell on Thursday in the tournament’s first stunner. They took Foothill, one of the favorites to win the Nevada state title, to overtime the following day.
Then the Miners capped the weekend with the victory over the Trailblazers. They had key contributions from several players, four of whom finished in double digits in points, led by Jordan Evans’ 18. For much of the game, it was the Miners, not the Trailblazers, who looked like the gifted team with national hype.
Over three days in Orem, the Miners, who were supposed be picked on by bigger, more talented teams, showed that they, too, can be a bully.
"We’re not trying to go out to prove anything to people," Childs said. "We’re just going out to improve every game, try to get better."
Yet as joyous as the Miners were following the win, the difficult part is yet to come. Schroeder admitted as much in the hallway outside the locker room.
Playing well for a weekend in a tournament atmosphere can be written off as a hot stretch for an otherwise unremarkable team. But building on that momentum, using it as fuel for a sustained winning streak, would be a true achievement.
"It was easy to step up our game against some of the great teams here this weekend," Schroeder said. "Hopefully we can keep it going. ... We’ve got a long way to go still, but if we play hard, I think we can play with a lot of teams."
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