WASHINGTON TERRACE — In the end, it wasn’t a game that was likely going to carry a whole lot of weight.
At least, not as far as the region standings and the playoff chances of the Bonneville High boys basketball team.
So when Bonneville dropped its road contest to Ogden, a team that to that point had not yet won a Region 5 game, on Jan. 30, it might have been easy for the Lakers to just walk off the court and let it go.
Starting point guard Kobe (named after the NBA star Kobe Bryant) Beatty couldn’t do that.
“He was mad because we lost that game,” Bonneville coach Jason Finder recalled. “These days sometimes that’s rare. Sometimes (high school kids) play so many basketball games that a loss really doesn’t matter because they’ll just play the next one. With AAU ball and stuff like that kids will play three games in a day and it’s nothing. They lose one in the morning, they know they have two more to play. But he doesn’t like to lose any game.”
Beatty’s determination has been a much-welcomed characteristic on a team that has won just six region games since the start of the 2012-13 season.
“He’s not going to quit,” Finder said. “That’s the thing. His heart is huge. He’s 5-foot-I don’t even know … He doesn’t care how tall he is. His heart’s huge and he’s just going to battle ... if it has to be him he will take on the whole team if he has to. That’s the heart that he has. He’s just a competitor. He has one of the most competitive mentalities that I’ve coached in a while just getting after it.”
Beatty, who stands at just 5-foot-6, is Bonneville’s second-leading scorer this season. He’s also fourth on the team in rebounds, averaging 3.4 per game.
“He has the mentality that he wants the ball in his hands all the time so he has a scorer’s mentality,” Finder said. “Scorers want to go after the rebounds because they know, ’If I have the ball in my hands I have a better opportunity to score. Also, I have a better opportunity to get the ball and push the ball up the floor.’ ”
“Often times if you look at a basketball team they don’t box out the point guards, so he’s always crashing the boards and he’s always up there in rebounds every night – the littlest guy on the floor.”
Beatty’s drive has been noticed not just by his coach, but also his teammates.
“His will to go get the ball is crazy,” senior Sealun Erskine said. “He has the mindset it’s his ball and he’s going to go get it, so that’s good as a point guard. And him being undersized, people don’t box him out as much so it’s great. He can just slip under and grab the board.
“He had an offensive board one time and I was like, ‘You should have just dunked it. You were all the way up there, you should have just slammed it down.’”
Beatty, the son of former Weber State University football player Derrick Beatty, was named after star NBA player Kobe Bryant. Because of his size, however, there’s another basketball player that Beatty identifies with more.
“Nate Robinson,” Beatty said. “His size, and I’ve read a lot of his quotes and I read his book, ‘Heart over Height.’ He’s a perfect example of what I want to be when I grow up.”
Beatty, who also played cornerback on the school’s football team and sometimes finds himself playing against guys a foot taller than him, insists he doesn’t feel any different.
“I’m 5’6” but when I’m out on the court I don’t feel 5’6”, Beatty said. “I feel just as tall as everybody else, so I just play with a big heart and I feel like my height’s in my heart, so that’s how I play the game.”
Helping Beatty has been a father who faced similar challenges. Beatty’s father is just 5-foot-8.
“It’s just heart,” Beatty said. “That’s what he’s told me my whole life. He said don’t ever worry about how tall you are, who’s going to doubt you. You just have to play with heart and play your game.”
Beatty acknowledges sometimes that can lead to some tension, like after the Ogden game.
“It’s just a game that I didn’t think that we should have gave away and (Coach Finder and I) were both frustrated about it,” Beatty said. “I like Coach’s competitive spirit and I’m the same way so we just bumped heads a little bit because we both didn’t want to lose.”
How far can Beatty’s drive carry him? According to Erskine, it’s an impossible question to answer.
“You can’t put a limit on that,” Erskine said. “If he works his game like he’s doing, there’s no stopping him.”