In the first half, what the Vikings endured was somewhat of an aberration of Viewmont's 2004/2005 season.
Viewmont came into this season with very high expectations of themselves and also high praise from local coaches and media. They entered the season as the pre-season number three team in all of 5-A, according to the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.
Viewmont opened up the season with an impressive win at the Ragu Invitational Tournament held at the E Center. They followed that with nail-biters over Woods Cross and Cottonwood to run their record early on to 3-0.
Viewmont endured some tough losses in-state after that before entering the Region 1 season sporting a 5-4 non-conference mark. What really got Viewmont going was their trip to San Diego for a post-Christmas tournament.
The Vikings found out a lot about themselves as a team in the tourney in which they finished third while winning two of three games. First, they found they had some athleticism and inside presence outside of their two main threats.
"We went down to San Diego somewhat reeling after losses to Bountiful and Orem, and it helped us regroup," head coach Jeff Emery said. He added, "We also found out that our two junior forwards, Braeden Schlehuber and Jordan Burningham, were going to give us great minutes out on the floor to help out our three senior starters."
The three seniors he was alluding to were center Sol Jensen, point guard Chris Romney and shooting guard Ben Bagshaw. All three played significant minutes their junior years and all three came up big in this their final scholastic season.
Jensen is headed to Weber State next year to follow in older brother Andy's Wildcat footsteps. Last time a Jensen played in South Ogden, Weber was beating North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. Weber State Head Coach Joe Cravens has to be salivating at the chance to get Jensen on the court with his Wildcats.
Cravens will have to wait because Jensen will be serving an LDS church mission for two years before he ever steps foot on the Dee Events Center floor. On Jensen, Emery said, "The mission should be good for him. He needs to add some muscle and weight to his 6-foot-8 frame before he plays Division I basketball. He should have no problem adding pounds while on his mission."
Romney and Jensen were self-proclaimed by Emery as "as good as I have ever coached."
Romney is the exact opposite of Jensen, fiery and exactly one foot shorter than the big center.
"What Romney lacks in size he makes up with toughness and the biggest heart I've ever been around in coaching. Whenever we needed a big basket this year, it always seemed like Chris was there to give us that boost," said Emery.
According to Emery, Romney will probably go through the junior college ranks for two years before undoubtedly landing with a four-year institution to finish out his remaining two years of college eligibility.
Along with Jensen and Romney, five other seniors led the Vikings into battle this season. Those other five were the aforementioned Bagshaw, Adam Smith, Justin Homer, Matt Black and Weston Brown. All seven of Viewmont's seniors played important and significant minutes this year and were the glue that held the Viking ship together.
Emery had this to say about his seniors and what they meant to the team this year: "We definitely knew we had a good team coming in this year and we had set some pretty high goals for ourselves from the onset. When we started to slip a little earlier on this season, the seniors were the ones who set the example for all of us and started us back on the winning track."
Yes, the Vikings lose seven key cogs to the engine next season, but Viewmont will be right there again, just like always. Viewmont should already have one of the best frontlines in Region 1 with Burningham and Schlehuber at the two forward spots returning. Another key contributor on the front line this season was junior-to-be Paul Rampton and he'll be looked upon next season to give the Vikes some added scoring punch.
A lot of the press went to Romney and Jensen, but just as noteworthy was the award that senior center Matt Black was recently given. Black, who, according to Emery "has never got below one A-minus in his entire life," was named to the Academic All-State first team at the end of this season.
Emery continued to say "he's (Black) light years ahead of any of us on the intellectual plane."
The Vikings lost two games all season long in Region 1 and they were both two-point heartbreakers to Fremont and Northridge. Fremont went on to win the 5-A title this past week while Northridge really came on the last half of the season and gave one of the tourney favorites, Bingham, a real run for their money in their first round 60-54 loss to the Miners.
"We lost those two games on a matter of two or three possessions and that's always tough to swallow", said Emery.
All in all, the season was a success though. "Yeah, we came up short of our goal that we were very confident we could attain. But, a couple of possessions here and there and a "re-do" on that West Jordan first half, and maybe we could have fulfilled those goals," Emery reiterated.
Viewmont ended the season with an overall record of 16-7. It was the second year in a row that West Jordan knocked them out of the tournament. The Jaguars have eerily become to Viewmont what Kentucky is to University of Utah basketball come every March.
Emery concluded our conversation with: "We had an extremely successful season. If I had this year to do over again, I would gladly do it all again with this special group of guys."