After breaking a 50-year absence from a prep basketball state-championship game with their runners-up honors to Shawn Bradley-led Emery County in last year's 3A finals, the Ogden Tigers are acting like they want to get back to the big show a little sooner - like this year. And why not, what with a returning frontline of 6-5 senior Tramyne Watson and 6-3 junior Brandon Parker back together again.
The big concerns for Ogden and Coach Mitch Wilcox for the Tigers' opening-round game Wednesday at Weber State University - facing second-ranked Spanish Fork and breaking essentially what was first-year perimeter personnel. Not to worry though - the Tigers' outside folks complemented the inside game just fine, and Ogden downed Spanish Fork 61-56 in one of eight 3A first-round contests.The Ogden-SF first-rounder was billed as Post vs. Perimeter . . . Strength vs. Shooters. While the Dons' duo of drive-happy senior Kent Cook and sophomore bombadier Robbie Reid showed flashes of brilliance, they joined teammates in demonstrating frustration as well - Spanish Fork made only one of 13 attempted 3-pointers and connected only 11 of 21 shots from the free-throw line. But it was Ogden's outside game that came through. Junior guard Neal Geddes - whose previous postseason claim to fame was having his name erroneously come up on the screen when his brother, all-stater Mark Geddes - was shooting free throws during the telecast of last year's 3A final, sank four of his six treys in the first quarter for a 20-6 Tiger edge, and senior Sheddric Mickles was directing the affairs on the court just fine for Wilcox.
"It just solved that question mark right there," said Wilcox of his outside concerns. "When we saw our perimeter people doing those things, I knew we'd be competitive."
However, Spanish Fork was having trouble staying the competitive course - shooting 25 percent in the first period and facing double-digit deficits for most of the game as the shots failed to fall.
"We didn't execute the first half, the first quarter - the shots we took put us out of sync," said SF Coach Mike Gardner.
"I think we played uncharacteristically tight - we missed a lot of scoring opportunities, we weren't aggressive and we weren't on our toes. That's not the way we've played all year."
But that's the way things started for SF - managing just six first-quarter points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor and 0-of-4 from the line. Meanwhile, Geddes' four treys and Watson's three baskets from underneath made for most of Ogden's 20 points.
Parker and Watson combined for 10 of the Tigers' 12 second-period points, while balanced Don scoring allowed Spanish Fork to draw within 32-23 at the half.
The Dons' first major challenge came early in fourth quarter, when back-to-back buckets by Cook drew SF to within seven at 47-40, but Geddes' long deuce sparked a mini Tiger rally as Ogden went up 52-40 with 4:11 to play. Spanish Fork then went on a 13-4 run, with cook scoring eight of his team-high 21 points during the stretch, as the Dons rushed back to trail just 57-55 with less than a minute left.
But Ogden outscored Spanish Fork 4-1 from the line the rest of the way - three by Mickles and one by Geddes for the victory. The Tigers were led by Geddes' 22 points, while Watson had 17 and Parker 14.
Ogden moved into Thursday's quarterfinals with the rest of Wednesday's first-round victors - Jordan, Springville, Murray, Sky View, Woods Cross, Ben Lomond and Bountiful.Jordan 59, Mountain Crest 58 : The Beetdiggers were down 12 points with four minutes left in regulation but forced the extra period by outscoring the Mustangs 18-6 the rest of the way. Ty Lombardi scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, while Mitch Berg tallied four of his 13 in OT.
Springville 62, Box Elder 54: The Red Devils were leading by 17 late in the third period and survived a 14-0 run by the Bees. Andy Croshaw and Paul Miner each scored 14 for Springville, while Ryan Shaw led Box Elder with his 14-point outing.
Murray 67, Wasatch 48: Kevin Carlston canned five treys and a game-high 22 points as the Spartans broke open a close game by outscoring the Wasps 24-11 in the final period. Joey Johnsen had (14 points) for Murray.
Sky View 60, Payson 59: Four of Shane Meacham's game-high 33 points provided the difference, as the 6-foot junior sank a game-tying trey with 27 seconds to play and the game-winning FT with :01 left. The top-ranked Bobcats survived the upset scare as Meacham took his late trip to the line on a split-decision call by the two-man officiating crew - one official called a tripping call, while another simultaneously whistled a traveling violation.
Woods Cross 60, Uintah 54: The third-ranked Wildcats had a tough time with the Utes, which led by five at intermission. But Jon Wickizer (18 points) and Mike Gurr (15 points) led a 13-4 spurt to start the second half as WX rallied to take the lead for good. Uintah was paced by Kirt Christensen's 14 points.
Ben Lomond 98, Pine View 75: The Scots had five players in double figures, headlined by Kim Hester's 22 points and Justin Wimmer's 21. The Panthers' Jed Christensen tossed in six treys and 29 points, while PV teammate Cody Webber added four 3s and 18 points.
Bountiful 88, Emery County 61: The Braves finally broke away from the defending champion Spartans, outscoring them 50-29 in the second half. Tony Jones scored 24 points and Chris Godfrey 14 for Bountiful.
Thursday's winners-bracet quarterfinals: Ben Lomond meets Bountiful at 4:30 p.m., Sky View faces Woods Cross at 6 p.m., Murray pairs up with Ogden at 7:30 p.m., and Jordan takes on Springville at 9 p.m.