By Barry Wong
Quarter by quarter in Clark’s 62-46 state 1-A championship win over Desert Pines Saturday afternoon at the Orleans Arena, Chargers fans could see both the end of an era and a glimpse into the future.
With Clark down 11-9 at the beginning of the second quarter, a freshman shooting guard by the name of James Bridges checked into the lineup. He had the green light and he proceeded to drain three straight 3-pointers, giving the Chargers a lead that they would never relinquish.
“He’s got ice water in his veins,” Clark senior Carter Olsen said. “He’s been like that all year long for us. He’s been quietly contributing for us all year.”
“It was huge,” Clark head coach Chad Beeten said. “Nothing phases him, and that’s why he’s on the floor.”
Bridges’s nine points in the quarter, coupled with a Chargers’ defense that held Desert Pines to only two points in the second, gave Clark a 21-13 lead at the half.
“We all played together,” Clark senior Colby Jackson said. “Defense is what won the game.”
Jackson, who finished his Clark career with 101 wins, didn’t score in the first half, but put on a show in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the frame, including a drive to the basket to beat the buzzer.
Junior Keyshaun Webb carried the load in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of 16 points in that period.
Junior Ty’Rek Wells finished with nine points, while Olsen added seven. And fittingly, the three key seniors of Jackson, Olsen and Wells all touched the basketball on the game’s most spectacular play, a Wells dunk late in the fourth quarter, a slam that capped a 12-1 Clark run after a Coby Myles three-point play that pulled Desert Pines to within 42-36.
“They just share,” Beeten said. “It’s certainly not the most talented team that we’ve had over the past few years, but it’s the best team we’ve had, and I say team with capital letters.”
Myles led the Jaguars with 18 points, while sophomores Jalen Graves added 11 and Capri Uzan had 10.
Clark’s big three of Jackson, Olsen and Wells all let their emotions loose as the clock hit zero, and the Chargers claimed their second-straight state title in their final game.
“We’re setting history at Clark High School,” Jackson said.
“It’s a big accomplishment for the school,” Olsen said. “Hopefully, we can continue that for future years.”