Highland Rambler

The student news site of Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah

Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Putting The ‘L’ In Leopard

McConkie Is Too Much As Highland Dominates Freak East Rivalry
Lauren Baese
George McConkie wins the ball during the Highland East basketball game.

This episode of the famed Highland-East rivalry began with a dead fish being thrown on the court and delaying the start of the game. It was only fitting that it came from the East student section because, like the fish, the Leopards stunk all night.

This has been a hot year for the Highland boys basketball team so far, and it didn’t stop when the Leopards came to the Highland side of town. The Rams steamrolled the Leopards and by the time the clock had hit double zeroes, the final score was 58-35.

When Highland hit the first bucket of the game, the Rams never really looked back, especially once the “it’s-all-over” chants started. After a couple of back and forth points between the teams in the first quarter, Highland hit its groove and took a steady lead, keeping East at arm’s length for the rest of the game.

By arm’s length, of course, meaning the length of Highland senior standout George McConkie’s arm. McConkie owned the game. His 6’11” frame was too much for the height-impaired East roster to handle.

“We always gotta go to George,” Highland coach Chris Jones said. “We have to go inside and establish that, and of course he did his part.”

McConkie finished the game with a strong 22-point performance, which led the Rams. East simply had no answer for his dominance down low. In spite of this, East rarely doubled teamed him, making it easy for McConkie to do his work.

“When they didn’t double me, I sat in there and made easy points in the paint, and when they did double me,I skipped it out to the three to try and get easy points there,” McConkie said.

But as good as McConkie was, basketball is a team sport and can’t typically be won by a single performance. Other members of the team did their part to propel the Rams to victory. Contributions from players like Highland junior Jack Anderton (14 points), and Highland sophomore Isaiah Drisdom (9 points), kept the Rams on top.

In a game that was primarily kept in possession of Highland for the whole game, there wasn’t a ton of suspense or pivotal moments. What really got Highland rolling was the efforts of Highland senior Grayson Gaddis at the beginning of the third quarter, where he first got a steal and then dribbled down the court and hit East with a powerful dunk, making the home crowd go crazy.

What really put the nail in the coffin was when — who else? — McConkie took a long range two pointer and drained it to put Highland up 39-24 with 4:26 left in the quarter. As he was running down the court, he saluted the Black Hole and the Highland student section went wild.

“It’s always goofy when we play East because of the environment and all the people… but I felt like our guys weren’t paralyzed in the moment and we did what we were supposed to do,” Jones said.

As another “Freak East” game passed, it ended with the annual bidding of goodbyes to East and the Highland students singing and waving together, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!”

Highland continued their successful season on Tuesday the 16th with a victory over Skyline, improving their record to 12-4 for the season and 4-1 in the region after the victory.

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