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James Bridges gives Clark open look at 4A boys tournament

Updated February 22, 2017 - 7:27 pm

Being open isn’t enough for Clark boys basketball coach Colin Darfour. He wants his players to be “wide, wide open.”

But when junior James Bridges takes a jumper, Darfour rarely worries.

“Anytime he lets the ball go, I’m happy,” Darfour said. “I’m a lot happier when they fall than when they don’t, but he’s the right guy to shoot the ball for us.”

Bridges knocked down three 3-pointers Tuesday to help the Chargers to a 68-48 win over Foothill to claim the final berth in the Class 4A state tournament. And Darfour hopes that hot shooting carries over to the tournament.

“I’m happy he was able to get in rhythm a little bit,” he said, “and hopefully that pushes him through the state tournament, because if he can shoot it like that and even a little bit better, then we’ll be really hard to beat.”

The Chargers (26-4) play Sunrise Region champion Coronado (18-9) in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Cox Pavilion. Bishop Gorman (20-9), which has won five consecutive state titles, plays Northern Region champion Reno (22-6) in the other semifinal at 4:45 p.m.

The Gaels aren’t the only team with a streak of titles on the line. Clark won the past three Division I-A (now Class 3A) championships before moving up to Class 4A this season.

“It’s a special group and a special opportunity,” Darfour said. “We’re embracing the challenge of keeping our own streak, the streak that we already have of three straight championships, alive with a fourth.”

Bridges, who averages 12.0 points, could be a key factor. The 6-foot-5-inch guard is one of several offensive weapons for the Chargers. Trey Woodbury, a 6-3 guard, leads the team in scoring at 14.1. Ian Alexander, a 6-6 forward, averages 11.1 points. Four other players average at least 7.1 points.

“There’s not one person that you have to worry about,” Alexander said. “You’ve got to worry about everyone, because you don’t know who’s going to be on that night.”

Darfour said the team’s balance and depth have led to more intense practices as players try to protect their spot in the rotation.

“That’s translated into us having extremely competitive practices, which translates into guys developing, getting better and learning how to compete in the heart of battle,” Darfour said.

The Chargers also are full of interchangeable parts. All five starters are 6-3 to 6-6, and nearly everyone on the team can play more than one position.

“We have some really talented pieces, and interchangeable pieces, and they’re long,” Darfour said. “And that’s another reason we don’t want to overthink anything. We just want to go do our best.”

If the Chargers defeat Coronado, it could set up a fourth meeting with Gorman. The Chargers are 1-2 against the Gaels this season after losing 64-51 in the Sunset Region title game.

“We want a rematch,” Alexander said. “We’ve got to focus on Coronado first and hopefully get there. But, yeah, it’s on our mind.”

Bridges said: “We want to snap their streak most of all.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.

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