Diontae Jones scored only six points in the Division I-A state title game, but the senior forward on Clark’s boys basketball team still found a way to have a major impact.
He always did throughout his career.
“He goes out and basically shuts out a (6-foot-9-inch) kid,” Chargers coach Chad Beeten said, referring to Elko’s Brian Pearson. “It says a lot about his ability and overall approach to the game. … The things he does sometimes don’t show up in the box score.”
Jones was the leading scorer and rebounder as the Chargers captured their first state title since 1993. The 6-6 Wyoming signee was also the team’s defensive catalyst, and that helped solidify his selection as the Division I-A Southern Region Most Valuable Player.
“He plays multiple positions, and he does the things you have to do to help the team win,” Beeten said. “That’s a recurring thing you hear other people and coaches say about Diontae.”
Jones averaged 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals for the Chargers (25-5), who didn’t allow more than 48 points during five postseason games.
In a 43-25 victory over Elko in the state final, Clark held the Indians to 26 percent shooting from the field. Jones helped limit Pearson to only five points, three rebounds and one blocked shot after the Alaska Anchorage signee had nine boards and 11 blocks against Desert Pines in the semifinals.
“When Sherron (Wilson) went down in December, we knew we would change a little bit offensively,” Beeten said. “We focused on the defensive end, and Diontae led us down that path. He’s such a defensive menace, the team definitely followed his lead.”
Jones was a three-year starter for the Chargers and helped turn around a program that won only nine games during the 2010-11 season. Clark was 78-13 the past three seasons and reached two consecutive Division I-A state title games.
“People want to associate with winners,” Beeten said. “He won almost 80 games in three years. That says a lot about him as a winner.”
Desert Pines teammates Re’Meake Keith, Nate Grimes and Coby Myles were named first team All-Southern Region along with Garrett Leavitt of Virgin Valley, Colby Jackson of Clark and Mojave’s Daryl Adams.
Jones earned MVP of the Sunset League. Jackson and Adams were named to the All-Sunset first team as were Clark’s Jordan Turner, Faith Lutheran’s Clayton Holthaus and Mitch Fulfer, and Cheyenne’s Jarrell Bell. Mojave’s Colin Darfour was the Coach of the Year.
Keith was the MVP of the Sunrise League. Grimes, Leavitt and Myles were joined on the All-Sunrise first team by Dee Bowler of Virgin Valley, Malik Davis of Desert Pines and Chaparral’s Tyree McNeal. Sean FitzSimons of Virgin Valley was the Coach of the Year.