Highland Comes Up Short Vs Bountiful

Elijah Straight, Editor-In-Chief

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It was a tough night for the Highland Rams who fell to the Bountiful Braves by a score of 78-71.  This was especially tough for the Rams who are currently jostling with Bountiful as well as Ogden for the final three playoff spots in Region 5.

From the get go, the Braves got off to a hot start, relying heavily on hot handed Brig Willard and the seven-foot tall Ryan Pollard for the majority of the first quarter and the game.  Both guarding and trying to shoot against Pollard proved to be a real struggle for the Rams, as Pollard is listed as at least five inches taller than anyone on the Rams’ squad.  This proved a real challenge for the Rams in particular center Caden Hilborn, who was tasked with guarding Pollard for most of the game.  This also made it extremely difficult for the Rams to drive in the paint, as Pollard would swat anything that would come his way.  However, the Rams managed to contain Pollard and Willard in the first quarter and ended the quarter only down 19-17.

After exchanging back and forth blows in the first quarter, the Rams managed to put together a solid run in the second quarter led by some hot shooting from junior guards Elijah Shelton, Trayton Keyes, and Oscar Maxfield.  Maxfield in particular knocked down some key 3 pointers for the Rams.  This allowed the Rams to retake the lead and the first half ended with the Rams up 43-39 on the Braves.

In the second half, the Braves looked to strike back on the Rams and make a run of their own.  Pollard again was the man on both offense and defense for the Rams, as he stifled everything on defense and nailed hook shots left and right on the Rams.  However, Pollard racked up four fouls early in the 3rd quarter, and was forced to sit for the majority of the quarter.  This allowed the Rams to drive to get more looks from inside on the Braves and looked to pull away from the Braves.  But the Braves would not go away that easily, and some exceptional guard play allowed the Braves to retake the lead heading into the 4th quarter, by a score of 59-58.

The 4th quarter started out as a back and forth affair with neither the Braves or the Rams being able to pull away from each other.  What was really the nail in the coffin for the Rams was foul trouble.   Both Shelton and senior guard Charlie Gochnour fouling out late in the 4th quarter.  This left the Rams without two of their best players in crunch time.

“Honestly it’s frustrating not being able to close out a close game, especially when they got me on a flop,” Shelton said.  “With me and Charlie fouling out with three minutes left it put us in a bad spot.”

After several offensive possessions where the Rams came up with nothing, the Rams were forced to start fouling the Braves, and the Braves made them pay for it.  Bountiful finished 20 for 23 from the charity stripe, including some key free throws at the very end.  A comeback effort was made by sophomore guard Liki Makaui who managed to draw a foul on two different three point shots.  This comeback effort was not enough for the Rams though, and the Braves managed to escape SLC with a win.  The Rams next up have to face clinched region champions Woods Cross Friday at 7:00.

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Highland Comes Up Short Vs Bountiful