It's just a matter of playing our best at the right time, and I definitely think that's what we're doing right now. —Layton head coach Kelby Miller
KAYSVILLE — The defending 5A state boys basketball kings are playing like champions again, and at just the right time of the year.
Senior guard Julian Blackmon had 19 points, backcourt mate Dallin Watts added 15 points and four assists and senior forward Chandler Obrey chipped in with 13 more points and a dozen rebounds as Layton High steamed past neighboring rival Davis for a 62-50 Region 2 road win Friday night.
The win was the Lancers' seventh straight, raising their overall record to 11-8 and pulling them into the league lead at 8-1 with three regular-season games remaining.
"It's just a matter of playing our best at the right time, and I definitely think that's what we're doing right now," said Layton head coach Kelby Miller.
"I just feel that we're starting to come together at the right time. We're definitely a better team than when we played them the first time (a narrow 40-38 Layton win on Jan. 19), and I'm just glad that we could show that tonight."
"Without my teammates, none of what I can do would be possible," Blackmon said. "With Chandler just rebounding, Jacoby (Kemp) a big-time help in the post, and Dallin on the free-throw line is money. Playing with those guys the past four years we've been playing together, it's just amazing to see what we've been able to do in those past four years.
"Really the key was us merging as a team because, when I got hurt (a broken wrist during football season), we were kind of iffy with our ball movement. And then we got more comfortable with each other, and I really thought that the way we play as a team now is a lot better than the first time we played them, and we just proved it on the court.
"We feel really confident about what we can do," said Blackmon, who also had five rebounds, five steals and continually fed his teammates for easy shots inside. "... It was really on our mind this year to get region and to get another state championship, and with the momentum we have right now, I really believe we could be a force in the playoffs."
Jarett Gardner, who led all scorers with 26 points and also had 10 rebounds and three steals, hit a pair of 3-pointers to give Davis an early 6-0 lead. But Watts and Blackmon combined for 13 points in a 15-4 run that helped Layton take a 15-12 lead at the first stop.
Blackmon and Obrey fueled a 13-0 run that extended the Lancers' lead to 28-12 in the second quarter. But Hayden Grange, Gardner and Ben Rigby sparked a 9-2 spurt that got the Darts back within nine, 30-21, at halftime.
Rigby scored a couple quick buckets inside to slash Layton's lead to 30-25 early in the third period, but the Lancers responded as Blackmon had five points and a couple of steals in an 11-4 run that put Layton ahead by 12, 41-29, entering the fourth quarter.
Then Kemp, Layton's senior big man, caught fire, scoring seven of his nine points down the stretch, and Davis could get no closer than 10 in the final period.
The Darts, who saw their own five-game winning streak snapped, dropped into second place in Region 2 at 8-2 and 13-7 on the season.
Coach Miller couldn't say enough about his team, starting with the way Blackmon has improved his outside shooting ability over the last year.
"That's something that he worked on," Miller said. "A lot of people knew that he's athletic, they know that he can get to the hole. He knew over the summer that that was something he had to work on.
"Unfortunately for him, he breaks his wrist — his left wrist, fortunately for us, so he was still able to shoot a little bit — so that's something that he's definitely worked on and improved on and it showed tonight. He had a couple of big-time jump shots that were clutch for us. And that just speaks volumes for the type of kid that he is.
"I have no problem with saying that I feel he's one of the best guards in the state," Miller said. "I'll put him up against anybody — anybody — and I think he can more than hold his own. ... He just does a great job for us."
"Coach Miller really wanted me to be a key point guard in high school basketball," Blackmon said, "and he had me train a lot in the offseason. I really focused on trying to finish at the rim when I have a chance, and they were just falling today and I felt really good about it."
But as outstanding as Blackmon is, the defending state champs are much more than a one-man show.
"Chandler's been our rock all season long," Miller said. "He's our hustle guy, he's that guy who can grab eight, nine, 10 boards a game for us, and he's happy doing it. He's not a kid who gets a lot of credit, but definitely holds it down inside for us. It's always great when you can limit teams to one shot. So all the credit in the world to him just for the type of kid that he is.
"Dallin's our energizer bunny. There's sometimes when he's the type of kid you can love him, you can love him to death, and sometimes he can drive you a little bit crazy with some of the things he does. But he always seems to make up for any mistakes.
"I thought Jacoby, at the end when we had the lead and were looking for some good shots, turned up big for us in the post," Miller said. "And another guy who I don't think gets a lot of credit, Boston Armistead, does a very good job for us, too, hitting foul shots at the end of games, taking care of the basketball and being a solid player for us."