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Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Rams Fight For First Playoff Win Against Viewmont

Claire Archibald
George Mcconkie drives the basket at the first playoff game on February 21

Wednesday February 21st was a whirlwind of a playoff game for Highland’s boys’ basketball. The rank 3 seed went into the game confident and assured they would advance to the next round of playoffs but as Viewmont kept the game alive and close Highland had to focus a little harder than they were expecting to eventually pull out a win of 67-50 and move on to quarterfinals this Saturday the 24th.  

The game began with George Mcconkie winning the tip off but after Highland failed to score on this possession and Viewmont put the first points on the board, tensions grew. Viewmont put up the first 6 points before Highland even scored. After a few minutes of no scoring Grayson Gaddis gave Highland their first glimpse of hope with a 3 –point shot followed by another 3 from Matt Lambson.  

In the first half of this game, the defense was shaky, because Viewmont was fast. In this half they outran Highland, so they did not have a hard time keeping the Rams on their toes with a close first quarter. In the first’s final minutes, Highland found their footing offensively; however, they still lacked dominance on the defensive end because of the inability to get back. They kept the game close although Viewmont continued to lead. In the final seconds Lambson put up a three to make the score 16-15, a score that was close enough to continue to make the crowd and players uncomfortable.  

Isaiah Drisdom drives past a Viewmont player on February 21st in the first playoff game. (Lauren Baese)

The second quarter was relatively the same as the Rams attempted to work on defense while keeping their offence active. With a weak offensive start, Viewmont took advantage to give themselves a steady five-point lead. However, with another three – point shot from Gaddis and a turnover that gave the Rams possession in the last seconds, Sefa Brown tapped in the ball with less than a second left in the half to tie the game at 27 – 27.  

“We would turn the ball over and let them get open threes,” Gaddis said. “And that is something we knew we had to change in the second half.” 

The second half is when the Rams began to work out the kinks of the first half. The score and the lead bounced back and forth staying within two to four points. The Rams offensive plays felt stronger, and they were able to match the scores of Viewmont as they wore down. Defensively they had a few turnovers which allowed Viewmont to score at the other end. Mcconkie took over scoring for the Rams at the end of this quarter and put them up 38-36 to end the third. This was still a closer game than it should have been, but it was clear that the Rams were establishing themselves to finish out the game in the final quarter.  

“We didn’t let the first half get us rattled,” Mcconkie said. “We went into the locker room a little down, but we were like ‘hey we’re good let’s keep going and we’ll eventually pull away.’” 

That is exactly what happened. The fourth quarter of this game was reversed from the first. Highland scored seven points before Viewmont got their first two with six minutes left. Mcconkie shown as a star scorer, driving to the basket, grabbing rebounds both offensively and defensively, making free throws and even making one or two threes. The Rams score soared above Viewmont in the final minutes, with big plays that would make the win untouchable. Gaddis and Lambson put up important three-point shots which would put the Rams into a double-digit lead. Jack Anderton also made a stunning three that forced Viewmont into a timeout.  

At this point it was clear that the Rams had come back and would win this game. They wore down Viewmont and discovered the best way to score: get it to Mcconkie. In the last two- or three-minutes Highland forced a lot of turnovers from Viewmont. On one notable one Gaddis grabbed it and ran to the basket, however he missed the dunk, but Brown grabbed the rebound and performed one of his own. This sent the crowd into a frenzy as their worries had officially disappeared. Coach Jones emptied the bench and Highland as a whole breathed a sigh of relief.  

With this win they now look toward the quarterfinals with the hope of making it to the semis. They need to continue to play hard, play confidently, focus and show the other teams they are competitors.  

“We can’t be nervous at the beginning of the game anymore,” Mcconkie said. “We were playing tentative at the beginning of this game, and we can’t do that at the beginning of the next game.”  

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