OGDEN — Usually, when a team gives up a 16-point lead to its arch rival, the wheels come off and the game spirals out of control.
There were times Tuesday when Ben Lomond was teetering, tottering and showing cracks in the facade as arch-rival Ogden came back from a big early deficit.
Two Scots starters fouled out in the fourth quarter. The crowd filled in and injected a crackling atmosphere. Ben Lomond’s free-throw shooting vanished. The Tigers led, they had the ball and then, Ben Lomond did something it hadn’t done all year.
The Scots buckled down.
In what will surely go down as one of the most dramatic games played in BLHS’s old gymnasium, Ben Lomond got a couple of late 3-pointers, capitalized on Ogden mistakes and dramatically held on to beat the Tigers 51-50 for its first region win of the year.
Ultimately, Cristal Martinez’s free throw with nine seconds left provided the last of seven lead changes in the fourth quarter and the final scoring of an enthralling game.
But for all of the tension, loose balls, turnovers and shots that barely rolled off the rim, the most important moments may have been two late 3-pointers by a Scots forward.
Leading 40-39, senior Jessica Roman caught the ball and shot it immediately. Swish. Tied 45-45 with 1:30 left, Roman shot another. Swish.
“We just moved her to a 4, she usually plays 2 or 3, so we made the decision ... which benefited us because no one thought she was going to be able to shoot 3s like that,” Scots coach Chelsye Saulsberry said.
Saulsberry knows something about Ben Lomond-Ogden games, having played in them 15 years ago when she was at Ben Lomond. She knows how they can change quickly. Tuesday’s certainly did, but unlike earlier games this year, the Scots weren’t about to come undone.
“We want teams to play at our pace, we don’t want to play at other teams’ pace and that’s what we failed at before. We get down, we get sad, we don’t know how to get back up. So that’s a huge accomplishment tonight that we were able to recover,” Saulsberry said.
Ben Lomond led 18-2 in the second quarter as its defense limited Ogden’s points to just two free throws through the first 12:24 of the game.
The Tigers couldn’t get a field goal to drop in until the 3:36 mark of the second quarter, then they closed the first half on a 12-3 run.
Ogden made another prolonged run in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 27-25 when Makin Clarke scored six consecutive points en route to 12 in the game. And that’s when the tension really amped up.
“So many emotions, at first it was nerve-racking, but then once we got in there we played our game — honestly, we played really good as a team, we knew that we couldn’t get behind, we had to keep the intensity,” Martinez said.
“Before, we would drop the intensity and then have to pick it back up. But throughout this whole game it was good. It was high energy.”
Martinez and teammate Jasmine Forte led the Scots with 12 points apiece. Ladeitra Hobson added 10.
Tigers’ leading scorer Brynn Soelberg didn’t play the first quarter and scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter.
What the Tigers missed with her on the bench was plays like this: tied 43-43 after she made two free throws, Soelberg stole a pass and converted an and-one layup for what looked to be all the momentum Ogden needed down the stretch to finish a spectacular comeback.
Instead, Ogden turned it over numerous times down the stretch, Roman made her second 3 and Martinez had the final say.
“I feel really good, I hope it just keeps going. So we’re just going to feed off this game and go into the next one,” Saulsberry said.