Hopes for a 1A state title for Intermountain Christian hinge upon two sharpshooting juniors, and the role players who benefit
By Alex Vejar of the Salt Lake Tribune
· Published: January 5
Updated: January 06, 2019
Cottonwood Heights • Earlier in the season, Brayden Stoddard had the night of his life.
It was early December during a slate of preseason basketball at Intermountain Christian High School, and the Lions were playing Draper APA. Stoddard, a junior guard with a streaky shooting stroke, found himself in an unusual situation after making his first three attempts from the 3-point line.
For a player who admits he usually gets off to slow starts, Stoddard, even in the moment, was a bit surprised.
“This never happens,” Stoddard thought.
His evening continued much like it started, and Stoddard ended up scoring 41 points and making 12 3-pointers in 28 attempts, a 43 percent clip that would make even some NBA players jealous. His 12 triples tied a state record, and his 28 tries broke another one. That same day, Stoddard also lit up the junior varsity game, scoring 53 points.
Stoddard is part of an offensive one-two punch at the 1A Intermountain Christian, which has a 7-3 overall record going into Tuesday’s matchup against Wendover, the top 1A school in the state. Stoddard and fellow junior Caleb Koski — a first-year transfer from Roy High School — each average 4.7 made 3-pointers per game, which is tied for first in the state and 12th in the country.
Stoddard — sitting in the team’s weight room while decked out in an all-black ensemble of a tank, shorts, tights, Nikes and a hairband — said he and Koski frequently check the statistics to see which player is ranked where. But the relationship between them has been more symbiotic than competitive.
“We want to make our team win no matter what,” Stoddard said. “And if that means that I have give him the ball every single time and he has 50 points, or if I have 41 points, then as long as we win it doesn’t matter.”
Case in point: Stoddard’s December wonder emporium of 3s. The Draper APA defense schemed to double-team Koski the entire game, leaving Stoddard wide open. And he kept making them pay.
Stoddard would have broken the state record that night had it not been for a pair of traveling violations called against the Lions that came directly before a made 3.
“He was mad about that,” said Koski, who is the team’s leading scorer averaging nearly 31 points per game.
Intermountain Christian’s offense is designed to get Stoddard and Koski the ball as often as possible, head coach Tim Drisdom said. Essentially, they have the green light. There is no shot they are not allowed to take when they want to take it.
But that kind of freedom comes with caveats.
“I rely on those guys a lot,” Drisdom said. “With that freedom comes a lot of responsibility.”