High school boys basketball: I-15 closure impacts fans' trek to 5A tourney
OGDEN — A high-speed chase on I-15 and the resulting closure of northbound I-15 in Davis County for several hours had a major impact on the atmosphere at the 5A boys basketball state tournament at Weber State on Monday night.
The Brighton-Pleasant Grove game, which tipped off at 7:30 p.m., was the most affected.
A school bus carrying Pleasant Grove cheerleaders, drill team members and students didn’t arrive at the Dee Events Center until 8:40 p.m., over three hours after it left Pleasant Grove High School.
When the bus finally arrived, Brighton led Pleasant Grove 65-53 with 2:02 remaining in the game and coasted from there to the 70-55 victory.
“It would’ve been good if we’d been here. I think we could’ve helped them be better and stay more positive. All of our crowd could’ve helped them like a regular game,” said Pleasant Grove cheerleader Sapphire Dye.
The Pleasant Grove bus started to run into traffic in Murray. Throughout the drive, there was constant talk of maybe turning around, but cheer captain McKenzie Gunter said, “I didn’t think we should turn around.”
The gridlock certainly had an impact on the Brighton fans as well.
Brighton’s two buses were stuck in traffic for two hours, with delays beginning in Bountiful. Fortunately for Brighton, principal Charisse Hilton was in a car behind the buses and guided them through the surface streets of Kaysville and Layton and then Riverdale Road. Accordingly, the Bengals supporters — including cheerleaders, drill team, band members and fans — arrived in the second quarter.
Brighton's drill team members had enough time to race to the locker room and change into their costumes with just a few minutes to spare before taking the floor for their halftime performance.
“My poor band only got to play four songs,” said Hilton, who said they never thought about turning around.
The last game at the Dee Events Center tipped off at 9:10 p.m. between Northridge and Viewmont, and Viewmont coach Jeff Emery was genuinely worried about whether his team would arrive.
Emery arrived at the Dee Events Center earlier in the day, but at halftime of the Brighton-Pleasant Grove game, his team bus was still stuck in traffic in Farmington. The Viewmont team finally arrived late in the third quarter of the game before, but the school canceled all other student buses for cheerleaders, the band and drill team.
The camaraderie of being stuck in traffic actually seemed to help Viewmont, which enjoyed one of its most consistent performances of the season in a 70-55 victory over Northridge.
Interesting enough, fans earlier in the day ran into a similar problem.
Because of an accident on Highway 89 near the mouth of Weber Canyon, traffic was backed up for several miles and none of the student buses for Bingham and Alta arrived for their 9:30 a.m. tip off until well into the second quarter.