When you’ve covered as many state tournaments as I have, sometimes they blend all together.
But some stand out.
One of those unforgettable moments was back in 2002. The state 4A boys basketball tournament was being held in Ogden at the Dee Events Center. Lone Peak was the defending state champions but lost most of their roster to graduation. In 2002, the Knights had 11 losses and needed a play-in game to even get into the tournament.
But sometimes magic happens. Lone Peak upset two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 to reach the finals against Highland. The Knights fell just one point short in the championship game, but what I remember is the epic four-overtime semifinal win – the last game of the evening – against Timpview. The story includes a classic quote by Lone Peak’s Gabe Larsen about how his team was able to pull off such an unexpected victory.
After the season, I was the emcee for an awards ceremony honoring senior athletes from around the valley. Larsen won the award for Lone Peak and when he took the mic he said that when he was younger, he would see me interviewing a player after a game and thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to be interviewed by Darnell Dickson.
As I basked in the glow of that comment, he continued with, “I know he doesn’t look like much …”
Thanks and good night. Don’t forget to tip your servers.
And with that, here is the story from that four-overtime state championship game 18 years ago. Wow, that makes Gabe 36years old and me … much older.
OGDEN — Who are these guys?
Who are these guys in maroon and gold who turned around an 11-loss season and a 26-point loss to Timpview in December into a pulse-throbbing 76-72 four-overtime victory over those same Thunderbirds Friday night in the 4A semifinals at the Dee Events Center?
Their names are Roberts, and Larsen, and Bahr, and Chase and a host of other guys no one ever heard of until Lone Peak’s magical run through the state tournament began last Friday with a playoff win over Roy.
Now with victories over a No. 1 seed (Murray), a No. 2 seed (Timpanogos) and finally, over another No. 1 seed (Timpview), Lone Peak is right back where it finished the 2000-01 season: In the 4A state championship game.
The Knights will play Highland, a 50-44 winner over East in the other semifinal. The game is at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, which left Lone Peak with just 15 hours before tipoff at the final buzzer Friday night.
“It was a wonderful game,” Lone Peak coach Ryan Cuff said. “That’s what it’s all about. Timpview is a great team, but we fought very hard and didn’t give up. There’s no quit in these guys.”
Before Lone Peak hustled to the bus to head home, Gabe Larsen had an explanation for the results of one of the most intense tournament games ever.
“Angels, dude,” Larsen said, looking up at the rim. “That was the best game in the state and I was part of it.”
The two teams battled well into the night, fighting through four overtimes before Rick Roberts scored the last five points of the game — including a knifing layup that gave Lone Peak the lead for good, 73-72, with 1:09 to play.
The last minute was incredible, featuring back-to-back five-second calls on inbounds plays and four chances for Timpview to win the game. But Roberts converted 3-of-4 at the line in the last 17.3 seconds and the upset was complete.
Cuff cautioned his players not to celebrate too much at the final buzzer.
Don’t worry, coach. They probably didn’t have the energy.
“We just need to worry about us,” Cuff said. “We don’t know a lot about Highland, but we’ll come prepared. There will be a lot of emotions involved. It’s a lot about mental preparation now.”
Both teams had chances to win as the game came down to what could have been the conclusion: Roberts at the end of regulation, Timpview’s Ryan Jackson at the end of the first overtime, Lone Peak’s Jeff Bahr at the finish of the second extra session and Timpview’s Brian Swindlehurst in the third overtime.
Timpview led by nine, 28-19, on a Jackson layup in the second quarter, but Lone Peak rallied to make it 29-28 at the half. With 3:05 to play, Lone Peak took a 54-47 lead on a Jared Nielsen rebound basket. But Timpview outscored Lone Peak 9-2 to close the game, and Richie Nash’s rebound and layup tied it at 56-all.
Timpview (21-3) had a 65-61 lead in the third overtime when Swindlehurst scored back-to-back baskets with two minutes to go. But a pair of 3-pointers, one by Larsen and the other by Bahr, tied it with 46 seconds remaining.
In the fourth overtime, Timpview again took a lead at 70-67 on a pair of free throws by Tanner Harmon. But Bahr and Brad Ruffner scored baskets, setting up Roberts’ game-winning drive.
Roberts led Lone Peak (14-11) with 22 points, with Ryan Chase and Bahr adding 13 each. Chase also added 10 rebounds and Larsen had six assists.
For Timpview, Travis Clyde scored 23 points on five 3-pointers. Swindhurst and Jackson had 13 each.