HS basketball:

Top-ranked Clark High has unfinished business under returning coach

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Christopher DeVargas

Players of the Clark High basketball team, from left, Trey Woodbury, Jalen Hill, James Bridges, Ian Alexander, Antwon Jackson and Greg Foster, take a portrait during the Las Vegas Sun’s Media Day at the South Point on Nov. 14, 2017.

Thu, Dec 7, 2017 (1:47 p.m.)

For Chad Beeten, it was a no-brainer to jump back into an old coaching job.

One aspect of the Clark High basketball team made the former Sun Standout Coach of the Year Award winner not hesitate to return to the Chargers’ bench after one-year detour to Crossroads High in Santa Monica, Calif.

“The group of guys we’ve got,” Beeten said when asked what drew him back. “They all play for each other, play together, play both ends of the floor and they’re all about winning.”

Beeten may have even missed the most important characteristic of the loaded roster he’s come back to — They’re hungry.

Clark, the preseason top-ranked team, is determined to avenge a collapse to Bishop Gorman in last year’s state championship that saw them blow an 8-point lead in the final two minutes.

“I treat it as a learning lesson and I’m pretty sure a lot of our guys do,” junior forward Ian Alexander said. “It’s kind of something I’ll hold onto and use as fuel going into this next season and the season after that, kind of just remembering what happened and how to fix those mistakes.”

If the Chargers can ultimately avenge their loss and break Gorman’s streak of six straight titles, it would bring Beeten’s fourth consecutive state championship. Clark won the Class 3A championship every year from 2013 to 2016 before advancing up to the 4A last season.

They return almost the entirety of their state runner-up roster that went 27-5 on the year. The senior class even got an influx of talent.

Gonzaga commit and point guard Greg Foster moved to the area from Milwaukee, and joins UNLV commit Trey Woodbury, last year’s leading scorer, and knockdown shooter James Bridges to form a terrific senior backcourt.

“He adds a lot,” Beeten said of Foster. “We’ve got another guy with size, athleticism, versatility. He plays both ends of the floor. I think he was a really good fit with this group because he doesn’t hunt shots. He’s a pass-first guy and he likes to get other guys involved.”

Clark’s junior class adds length and size to go with extra explosion. Jalen Hill, a 6-foot-7 swingman, might be the best college prospect on the team.

And yet he’s no more likely to dominate in any single game than the 6-foot-6 Alexander or the 6-foot-7 Jackson, a pair who add to opponents’ matchup nightmares with versatile skillsets.

So far, the Chargers have looked every bit as strong as advertised. They’ve won their first three games by an average of more than 50 points.

They’re driven by what happened last year, and not planning to rest until it’s corrected.

“Personally, it’s still fresh in my mind to remind guys we’ve got to keep coming in and competing to get back to that,” Jackson said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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