OGDEN -- When Hayden Schenk went down with an ACL injury at the end of the first quarter of last year's state 5-A tournament opening-round loss to Brighton, his number one goal was to lead Weber back to the state tournament. Mission accomplished.
Schenk, who leads the 5-A in scoring with a lofty 25.9 points per game average, stepped back onto the Dee Events Center floor in a Monday matinee, and led the Warriors to a resounding 68-39 thrashing of West in first round action of the state 5-A tournament.
"There were a lot of emotions and jitters before the game," said Schenk. "There was a ton of work that went into getting back here. I couldn't have done it without the help of my teammates and family who helped with countless hours of rehab. It felt good to get back on the court."
You wouldn't have known by the way he played and the final stat line that Schenk had opening round jitters. The Weber senior led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field (3-for-3 from the free throw line), dished out a game-high nine assists, led both teams with five steals, and tied for the lead with eight rebounds.
Schenk didn't concern himself with scoring in the first half. He scored on a three-point play less than three minutes into the game and added a pair of free throws with 2:10 remaining in the half. That was it. The rest of the time he was busy getting everyone involved.
"He (Schenk) scores a lot of points because he is definitely that talented. He always tries to get guys involved, and he was trying to get them involved in the first half," said Weber coach Mark Larsen. "I told him to pull up and start shooting it. He started to do that in the second half."
The outcome of the game was never in doubt as Weber jumped to a quick 6-0 lead and scored the final eight points of the first period on the strength of a pair of Jaren McKnight 3-pointers, to take a 15-4 cushion into the second stanza.
West made a brief run midway through the second quarter to pare the deficit to six at 20-14, but Weber ran off eight unanswered points to end the half.
After trading baskets for the first three minutes of the third period, the Warriors opened up their biggest lead of the contest at that point, 39-20, when Schenk scored three straight driving layups. The Panthers put together one last surge by nailing three 3-pointers in a two minute span, but Weber pulled away by scoring the final five points of the third quarter and first 11 points of the final frame to take a 30-point, 59-29 lead.
The fourth-quarter outburst was highlighted by a Weber slamfest in the first two minutes. Auston Tesch, Garret Becky, and Schenk each brought the house down with thunderous dunks that sealed the victory.
Tesch was a catalyst off the bench scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 15 minutes of play. Nine of Tesch's points came off traditional three-point plays.
"I just try to make a difference when coach calls on me. When I get the chance I'll try to make the best of it," said Tesch.
The Warriors led the Panthers in all facets of the game including points in the paint (36-12), points off turnovers (23-13), second chance points (8-0), fast break points (21-7) and bench scoring (17-5).
There was plenty of other excitement leading up to tournament play as well. Larsen's wife, Hali, delivered a healthy baby girl just four days ago and both were in attendance for Monday's clash.
"With everything that was going on, the doctor decided to induce my wife on Wednesday. So I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the hospital. I would come down for practice and then go back to her," Larsen said. "She told me she wasn't going to miss the game so I said, 'Fine, you have to sit in the rafters.' She ended up sitting in about the 12th row."
Baby Chaselyn was wrapped warmly, and with earplugs, slept through it all.
"It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks with the baby and the games," said Larsen. "You have to beat Davis in overtime in your place, and then you get Northridge, and then go to Layton when their trying to fight and get into the tournament. I'm proud of these kids and for what they've accomplished."