When they won the 2008 NBA championship, the Boston Celtics were led by their Big Three — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
With the Cedar Redmen in the middle of a nine-game winning streak heading into the second half of the Region 9 season that starts tonight, their own version of a Big Three is beginning to emerge.
Ryan Armstrong, Brock Englestead and Dustin Staggs have provided more than enough scoring and rebounding punch as Cedar swept through the first half of region play. Staggs leads the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game and had a career-high 24 points in Friday’s 57-46 win over Pine View.
The 6-foot-7 junior, who has scored in double figures in all but one of Cedar’s games, credited team chemistry as a big component of the Reds’ success.
“Our chemistry gets our runs going,” said Staggs, who also averages 8.7 rebounds a game and had 13 in Friday’s victory over the Panthers. “That’s how our team is.”
Staggs set his new high in points six days after the death of his father and said being on the floor playing basketball is a valuable help.
“It takes the stress out of everything in life,” Staggs said. “I love coming out with my team and just playing. It takes the edge off of everything.”
When Staggs isn’t doing his thing inside, Armstrong provides another weapon for teams to deal with. The 6-3 senior set a career high with a 22-point effort in a Dec. 29 win over Tooele and averages nearly 11 points and six boards a game.
“We all trust each other and know we can score,” Armstrong said. “We’re all kind of tied to a string and know what the other is going to do (on the floor).”
The Reds got as far as the 3A semifinals before falling to eventual champion Hurricane last season. Staggs said the loss has been a driving force for this season.
“It fuels us to be an even better team this year,” Staggs said. “Everyone said before the season that we weren’t going to be very good and we just wanted to prove everyone wrong. When we play our game, we’re definitely a top team.”
Also a senior, Englestead brings averages of five points and three rebounds a game. He had a season high of 15 points in a win over Dixie on Jan. 4.
“We’re all playing to our abilities,” Englestead said. “Dustin did awesome against Pine View and Ryan’s had big games all the time. … When one of us needs to step up, we will. If one is off, the other two will step in.
“It’s crazy in this region to go undefeated in the first half. That means a lot and if we keep that up, we’ll be looking good at state.”
Cedar head coach Craig Cardon said each of his Big Three offer a different part of their games to the puzzle that has given teams fits so far.
“Ryan’s more of a bruiser, Brock has inside-outside and a pretty good dribble-drive, and Dustin’s a 15-foot-in kind of guy,” Cardon said. “You can’t just lay for one. If you think you’ve got Dustin shut down, Ryan goes for a game like he had against Tooele. Any time you have that kind of a blend, it’s a good thing.”