BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL — After suffering one of the most heartbreaking losses in the State 4A boys’ basketball playoffs, Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell made one thing clear about this year’s team:
They’ve set the bar high for next season.
After posting 21 wins in 25 games, including the playoffs, the Bountiful Braves boys’ basketball team has every reason to look forward to getting back into the playoffs.
Only next time, they plan on going further than the semi-finals.
“These guys have set the bar really, really, really high,” said Maxwell after the team’s semifinal loss to Sky View last Friday. “I’m very proud of what they did this season.”
Setting the expectations for 2013 isn’t the only setting the team has done. It also set many team records throughout the season.
After finishing Region 6 with a 10-0 record in 2012, Bountiful will enter the 2013 season with a 21-game winning streak against region opponents.
The Braves’ last loss in region play came against Olympus on the second-to-last game of the 2011 season.
Olympus is now in Region 7.
Bountiful also finished this season with two more records, according to Maxwell. To date, the Braves haven’t lost in their last 21 home games, and haven’t lost any of their last 13 road games, not including the playoffs.
The Braves also averaged a region-best 64 points per game and allowed the fewest points per game during region play.
“That’s a pretty impressive feat, no matter who you are or what kind of team you have,” said Maxwell. “We’ve also won 20 (games) in a row (this season), which is tough to do.”
Also beyond the norm for next year’s team will be the number of graduating seniors.
Bountiful’s boys’ team will only see four seniors on this year’s team leave due to graduation, two of whom saw consistent playing time.
Sam Merrill and Zach Seljaas could be two key players returning to the basketball court next winter. A junior and sophomore, respectively, the duo each averaged more than 15 points per game.
Pere LeSeuer and Jordan Bleak, a pair of juniors who saw some playing time, could also be back for Bountiful at the start of the 2013 season.
Among the four graduating seniors are starting center Nate Pollard, starting forward Mosese Manu, center Avery Najarian, and guard Michael Brown.
“The house is pretty full there for next season,” said Maxwell. “We’re definitely not bringing an empty deck to the table for next year. We’ve got a good core group of players, and I think we will be right there again if we set everything up right and do what we should.”