homepage logo

Beating the buzzer: Ogden High boys basketball has knack for winning late

By Patrick Carr - | Jan 18, 2022

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

Ogden High's boys basketball team gathers after practice on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 at Ogden High School.

The scoreboard’s a little broken in Ogden High School’s auxiliary gymnasium. One of the numbers on the clock readout disappears for 1-3 seconds at a time.

Maybe it makes sense, then, that the Ogden boys basketball team has been playing so well this year when there’s not much time shown on the clock.

After this past Friday’s dramatic buzzer-beating, overtime 3-pointer by Jace Oliverson that gave the Tigers a 61-58 win at South Summit, Ogden is now 7-6 overall, including a mark of 5-1 in games decided by single digits.

And of those six single-digit games, four have been decided by one possession. Ogden is 3-1 in those games, and the two that weren’t single-digit games were won by the Tigers by scores of 66-62 and 66-61.

“It’s exciting. I’d rather win a close game than a blowout, it’s just more fun,” said Oliverson, one of seven seniors on the team.

So what’s behind the late-game success this year?

“Play good defense, defense wins games. Our man defense, I know every one of my teammates can lock somebody up,” Oliverson said.

OHS coach Brock Randall said the team went to Idaho tournaments in the summer and lost some close games, including one at the buzzer.

“After that game, the guys kind of spent a little bit of time together and recognized, we only lost because of ourselves. He hit a big shot, but we really kind of gave him all the opportunity to do so,” Randall said. “They really buckled down and they’ve showed a lot of maturity. I think there’s a trust level with this group that I haven’t seen before.”

Senior guard Khol Gill, who has had as big of a late-game stamp as anyone this season, had a similar idea.

“I don’t think there’s a secret, it’s just trusting each other,” Gill said.

All of those reasons, plus the proverbial “ice in the veins,” have helped in Ogden’s blood-pressure-raising season.

In early December against Kanab, playing in the 3A/2A preview tournament in Richfield, Ogden had the ball with about 30 seconds left in a 72-all game and ran 20 seconds off to try and get the last shot. The ball went to Gill in the left corner. He blew by his defender.

“Baseline drive, I had enough space to get one off and I felt comfortable with it,” Gill said.

Gill made a running floater with 9.7 seconds left to put the Tigers up 74-72.

Ogden pressed as Kanab had the last shot attempt in that game, which fell short from just inside half court.

“I myself tried to go and steal it, it just got by me, luckily they didn’t end up putting it in,” Gill said.

Six days later in the Manti High tournament against hosts Manti, Ogden trailed 74-71 and Jace Oliverson missed a contested 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

The next day, Dec. 10, Ogden was tied with Juab 51-51 and, with a few seconds remaining, Gill got fouled when he came down with a rebound after a missed Wasps shot.

Gill made the two free throws with two seconds left in overtime, center Landen Smith blocked Juab’s game-winning shot attempt at the buzzer and Ogden won 53-51.

“I felt pretty good about it, especially knowing it was double bonus,” Gill said of the free throws.

“Kohl’s a little bit more Cool Hand Luke out there, you know?” Randall said. “He plays with passion but doesn’t play necessarily off of emotion. I think that helps him in those situations.”

And then there was Friday’s Region 13 game at South Summit with an actual buzzer-beating shot, this time made by Oliverson in overtime for a 61-58 road win.

“I didn’t even think it was going to go in, I just threw it up,” Oliverson said of the game-winning shot.

Ogden’s players mobbed Oliverson after the shot. He bit his tongue in the chaos.

South Summit nearly won it at the end of regulation, but once again, there was the defense Randall and Oliverson mentioned, forcing an airball attempt to send the game to overtime.

“Defensively, starting right in the center under that basketball hoop with the big fella (7-foot center Landen Smith), and branching out from there, we’ve really made some big defensive basketball plays to put us in games,” Randall said.

With a 7-6 record, the Tigers have more wins than their last two seasons combined. Ogden is ranked No. 13 in the RPI and if it finishes ranked between 12-16, that would mean hosting a first-round playoff game.

“They really are unselfish,” Randall said. “They really focus on trying to make each other better and they’re really committed to a common goal. They’re really not worried about who’s doing what as long as someone’s doing it.”

The Tigers also played a bunch of out-of-area teams they’re not used to (Kanab, Parowan, Manti, Juab, Delta) and Randall thinks that’s helped the team focus on itself, instead of focus on what’s happened in the past against local teams like Bonneville, Roy, or whomever.

Given the state of Region 13, Ogden has to play very well to even get games to a point where a buzzer-beater could be in play.

Last week, the Tigers were blown out 81-33 by new region member Layton Christian.

LCA is one of four Region 13 teams occupying the top five spots of the 3A boys basketball RPI right now (Grantsville is No. 1, Morgan is No. 3, LCA is No. 4 and Ben Lomond is No. 5).

Those four teams, as of Tuesday morning, had a combined record of 36-14. The boys side of Region 13 is undoubtedly the toughest region in 3A.

None of those four, so far, have the late-game acumen Ogden has.

“I mean, they’re so fun, but my gosh they make you old,” Randall said.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)