Year in review: Highland looks back on top finishes in sports
Dec 17, 2018 01:50PM
By Josh McFadden
Highland’s Graydon Lambert chases down a Hillcrest player in a game earlier this season. Lambert will be a key member of next season’s team. (Photo by Julie Shipman Photography)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
As the calendar flips to 2019, sports fans tend to reflect on the recently finished year and how their teams fared on the field or court. At Highland High School, a handful of teams enjoyed success during the season and advanced to playoff action.
What started toward the latter end of 2017 ended in late-February on the court at Weber State University. The boys basketball squad bowed out of the Class 5A state tournament early, falling to eventual runner-up Corner Canyon 69-57.
It was a tough loss to take, considering the Rams were up comfortably at the break 30-18. Corner Canyon went on a huge run, outscoring the Rams 29-19 in the third quarter and 22-8 to win going away. Elijah Shelton, Oscar Maxfield and Richard Tialavea reached double figures in the disappointing loss.
Still, the Rams had plenty to be happy about during the season. In Region 6 play, Highland placed second with an 8-2 record. Both of the Rams’ losses were to region and 5A state champion Olympus, which went undefeated on the season.
Highland dished out its share of lopsided victories en route to amassing a 15-7 overall record. The Rams had five games in which they won by at least 17 points. They also held 15 opponents to fewer than 60 points, including all of their region wins.
Christian Rich and Liki Makaui led the team in scoring with more than 11 points per game each. Both players are back this season and helped the team get off to a 2-2 record.
“I thought it was a successful year,” said head coach James Boyce after the season ended. “This is the most athletic team I have ever coached. They were tough players.”
Interestingly, the girls basketball team didn’t have as much regular season success as their boys team counterparts. Yet, the Lady Rams fared better in the state tournament.
The girls placed fourth in Region 6 with a 4-6 record. Overall, the team was 13-12. But it was in the postseason where the Rams started rolling. They turned heads with an upset victory over Corner Canyon, 51-45, in the first round. Corner Canyon had won Region 7 and had lost just twice all season. Unfazed by the seemingly superior opponent, Highland jumped out to an 18-8 lead after one quarter and played suffocating defense—limited Corner Canyon to 21 percent shooting—the entire game. Kaija Glasker had 17 to pace the Rams.
The magic continued in the quarterfinals where Highland knocked off Woods Cross 51-41. Once again, the Rams got off to a good start, getting up 12-6 after one quarter. Woods Cross came back to take a 20-19 halftime lead, but the Rams surged ahead for good thanks to a dominant 19-5 third quarter. Svetlana Olevao had 19 points and an eye-opening 17 rebounds in the victory.
Highland looked to continue its Cinderella run in the semifinals, but that’s where the fairy tale ended. It lost to region rival East 44-38, making it the third defeat on the season to the Leopards.
Glasker and Olivia Beckstead were two of the team’s leading scorers last season at 12.1 and 7.1 points per game, respectively. Both are back in 2018-19 and have led the way in the Rams’ 1-2 start.
Once the ground thawed, Ram athletes were on the diamond, and Highland did just enough on the season to reach the state tournament.
The Rams finished 2018 with a 14-13 record and a 6-9 mark in Region 6, good enough for fourth place. The Rams snagged the fourth and final playoff spot in the region.
In the double-elimination tournament in mid-May, Highland succumbed in two games, though the team was competitive in both. The Rams first gave Region 5 champion Viewmont all it could handle in the first round. Highland picked up a pair of runs in the seventh inning to make it a 7-3 game but could get no closer.
In the one-loss bracket, Highland was leading Provo 3-1 in the fourth inning but gave up seven runs in that stanza. Impressively, the team rallied for four runs of its own in the fifth to get within 8-7. But Provo held on for a 10-8 barnburner. Graydon Lambert and Cole Peterson contributed doubles in the losing effort.
Jeanine Elsholz, who also coaches the boys team, has helped engineer quite a turnaround at Highland. Of course, she’ll tell you it’s all about the players.
“While I am very proud of what these girls accomplished on the court, I am even more proud of their reputation in the HS tennis community,” she said at the end of the season. “They are known for the great sportsmanship and kindness on the court, which is by far the most important thing to me. They all represented Highland well this season.”
The Rams ended up tying for fifth at the Class 5A state tournament, but they were just a point away from taking third. Every varsity player qualified for state, and every position won at least one match in the tournament this past fall.
Headlining the team was sophomore Sophie Hastings, who was runner-up at No. 2 singles. She won her first three matches 6-2, 6-2; 6-1, 6-3; and 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. In the finals she lost a hard-fought match 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
First singles competitor Dylan Lolofie, just a freshman, advanced to the second round, as did third singles player Isapeli Huhane, a senior. Both doubles teams reached the second round as well. The first doubles team was senior Shannon Maughan and senior Lauren Mayeda; the second doubles team was Abby Bradford, a sophomore, and freshman Kate Creamer.
Much like in boys basketball, the football team would have run away with a region title had it not been for Olympus.
The Rams went 8-3 overall and were second in Region 6 with a 4-1 record. The team’s only loss was to Olympus, which ended up going undefeated before falling in the state semifinals. However, Highland put a huge scare into the Titans when the two squads met on Sept. 28. While bowling over other opponents by massive margins, Olympus struggled with Highland. The Rams barely lost, 13-12, but kept Olympus’ powerful running game in check.
In its other games, Highland had some big blowouts, including wins of 58-0 (over Hillcrest), 24-0 (over Murray), 42-7 (over Skyline), 48-0 (over West) and 66-14 (over Farmington). But the team’s most impressive showing of the year had to be its stunning 21-9 win over Lone Peak on Sept. 7. The Knights ended up winning the Class 6A state title.
Highland used a balanced rushing attack to control games. It had six players accumulate at least 100 yards on the ground: Colton White, Bronson Olevao, Ammon Sofele, Matthew Lloyd, Ousmane Doumbia and Sope Tenifa.