Highland Rambler

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

Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Highland Suffers Heartbreaking Loss in Semifinals

Daisy Ray
George McConkie watches as Sefa Brown scores.

It’s been a while since Highland High School has boasted a basketball team as special as the one it had in the 2023-24 season.  

“They were special,” Highland basketball coach Chris Jones said. “They sacrificed for each other. They did it for each other.” 

It was a season that won’t soon be forgotten by Highland and its fans. A team that went from zero to hero and defied the odds. A season that was a battle until the very last seconds ticked off the clock in the Rams 57-50 loss against cross-town rival Olympus in the 5A semifinals on Tuesday, February 27. And although it wasn’t the state championship game, it might as well have been. In other words, the game was legendary.  

After a muffed jump ball, the game was action packed. Highland jumped out to a quick lead, going 5-5 on its first three-point shots. Highland senior Sefa Brown contributed a fast eight points to Highland’s lead. The Rams kept Olympus at arm’s length for most of the first half, and then the Titans made a small comeback. The score when the teams went into the locker room at half was 34-31, Highland on top.  

Highland came out of the locker room with absolute confidence. That’s when Highland’s superstar, who had been quiet in the first half, started to make his appearance. Highland senior George McConkie and Highland’s “Black Hole” came out of the half with chips on their shoulders and bones to pick.  

McConkie dominated the paint right out of the gate, helping Highland up to a quick 41-31 lead at the beginning of the third quarter. The game went back and forth, but Highland stayed up by 10 points for most of the third. Highland went into the fourth quarter up 48-39.  

Unfortunately, that’s where the trouble started. And the turnovers piled up. Desperate to come back, Olympus went to a full-court press to try and speed up Highland. The Rams struggled with the pressure, turning the ball over multiple times to help fuel the Titans’ comeback. 

“We stopped trying to attack them and win and started trying not to lose instead,” Brown said. 

That statement couldn’t have been more true, and Olympus had no shortage of talent waiting for that moment. Highland let the Titans make a slow comeback, and the once silenced Olympus student section finally had a reason to cheer. Thats when with 2:31 left in the game, Olympus tied the score at 48.  

“We came prepared… but later in the game we just took our foot off the gas,” Brown said.  

Highland simply couldn’t stop Olympus’s momentum in the final minutes and when the clock hit double zeroes Oly was on top 57-50, ending Highland’s historic run.  

“We played our hardest. Not much more you can ask for,” McConkie said.  

But for McConkie, it’s not about what the final came out as or what he could’ve done.  

“I’m not so much sad we lost the game. I’m just sad I don’t get to go and practice with the guys anymore… That’s the main reason we wanted our season to keep going,” McConkie said.  

Brown echoes the same remarks: “I feel like we did something great as a team. We made Highland basketball relevant together.” 

Coach Jones thinks the same thing. 

“I love the dudes that we have, and I love our team,” Jones said. “I love everything about them.” 

Although it’s not the way Highland fans wanted to see the season end, it was a fantastic season to be a part of.  

“I’m proud of them. They’re awesome. It’s been a heck of a ride,” Jones said. 

It was never about the wins and the losses for The Rams. It was about brotherhood and having a good time. It was about coming together to become something better than themselves. It was about becoming a team. If this game showed anything, it was a total team effort on the court. The points were well spread throughout the whole team. The team had great stats overall, but it proved to just barely not be enough.  

As for McConkie, he’s just grateful for the experience.  

“Yes of course, main goal: state title, but we just love being together and being friends,” McConkie said. “I can tell you there isn’t a team in the state as close as us.” 


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Highland Rambler Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *