Rams Fall Short To East During A “Freak East” Unlike Any Other


Audrey Hemingway

Freshman Sefa Brown jumps to shoot the ball for the Rams.

Peach Schilling, Editor-In-Chief

Every year for the past few decades, Highland students would gather in the main gym looking freaky as ever in hopes of cheering on the basketball team while they faced their biggest rivals. . . East. This year, although the teams were lucky enough to play, it was nothing like it has ever been before. The Rams fell short with a final score of 54-59.

For the first time in over 50 years, students were not allowed to enter the building to watch the event and there were more empty seats than occupied ones due to COVID restrictions within the Salt Lake City School District. 

Senior and captain Ammon Kaufusi, known for his impressive dunks, was excited to face East in hopes of adding to their winning streak after beating both Cottonwood and Hillcrest.

“Our team went in thinking we were going to win and add to our win streak,” Kaufusi said. “It was definitely different compared to last year because a fun part of playing is being in front of tons of fans.”

The Rams fought hard from the start and held tight with the leopards for the majority of the first half. After being down by five points at the end of the first quarter, Highland was able to match East’s ten points scored in the second, going into halftime with a score of 17-22.

Varsity cheerleader Ella Chamberlain leading the crowd during a cheer with her “freaky” makeup.

The school spirit that students bring to a typical Freak East game not only excites the players, but entertains the rest of the audience. Halftime was different in the sense that the Highland cheerleaders were unable to perform as a whole team as usual. Captain Haley VanWagoner was disappointed in the sense that her team was unable to participate in the same way as usual, but glad that cheer was able to show their strengths. 

“From what I had heard, students from both schools were very sad and disappointed they weren’t able to go,” VanWagoner said. “But cheer definitely had some things to make it better. Although we couldn’t do our normal all-out routine, we worked hard to entertain the fans and tried to keep our boys encouraged during the game without our giant student section.”

The cheerleaders still dressed “freaky” to promote the spirit of the game and were able to briefly perform in between quarters, during timeouts, and during halftime. 

The Rams came back from halftime strong and held their own during the third and fourth quarters. Standout freshman Sefa Brown was a key player for Highland and felt the momentum after halftime.

“The crowd gave us some energy going into the third and fourth quarters,” Brown said.

The last couple minutes of the game was when most of the intensity was felt. As Highland was approaching East and only three points behind with one minute left, the Rams thought they may be able to catch their rivals. A foul called on the Rams called the game and ended the night. 

“I appreciate people showing up to the games,” Kaufusi said. “I believe we are good enough to beat any team in our region and we are going to play hard every night and try to come out on top.”

David Burnett passing the ball to a teammate during the “Freak East” game. (Sebastian Ramos)