Ogden • In a rugged game where playing close to the basket required an act of courage, Corner Canyon’s 6-foot-9 Hayden Welling towered above everyone.
As a result, the Chargers avenged two close and hard-fought regular-season losses by beating region rival Jordan 62-45 and winning their first Class 5A state basketball championship Saturday in the Dee Events Center.
In a game where the two teams combined for just three 3-point baskets and none by Corner Canyon, the action was close to the basket.
That’s where Welling shined. Despite being knocked around and occasionally blocked by the Beetdiggers, he prevailed with a 29-point, 15-rebound performance.
“It wasn’t all me,” he said. “My teammates played defense the whole game. And we worked the ball inside.”
Welling got plenty of help inside from Gabe Toombs, who contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds against the physical Beetdiggers.
The victory gave veteran Utah prep coach Dan Lunt his first state title after three previous finals losses in a distinguished 31-year career.
“The joy is in the journey,” said Lunt, who came to Corner Canyon three years ago from Payson and led the Chargers to the semifinals and last year’s finals. “This is the icing on the cake.”
He said Corner Canyon sacrificed the 3-point game to get the ball into the paint, a strategy the paid great dividends.
Corner Canyon grabbed an early lead, allowed Jordan to tie it late in the second quarter and then slowly pulled away with a 21-10 third quarter.
The Beetdiggers got good games from Dyson Koehler, who had 13 points, and Tevuta Mafileo, who had 11, but just couldn’t match the Chargers inside game as Jordan came just short of winning their first state basketball title since 1984.
The Chargers never allowed Jordan to get comfortable on offense. They played physical inside with Toombs enjoying a big second half.
The box score showed just how much Corner Canyon dominated on defense. The Chargers held Jordan to 30.2 percent from the field and 15 percent from the 3-point line. They didn’t allow any chance of a comeback by fighting off every Jordan challenge.
Corner Canyon also established itself as among Utah’s prep elite. The Chargers also won the 5A football championship game last fall and their girls’ basketball team finished second to East last week.
CORNER CANYON 62, JORDAN 45
• Hayden Welling scores 29 points and grabs 15 rebounds to lead Corner Canyon to its first state boys’ basketball championship.
• The Chargers lost twice to Jordan in the regular season but came up big in the end.
• Dyson Koehler and Tevita Mafileo hit double figures for Jordan, which was seeking its first title since 1984.