OGDEN — Depending on how teams defend him, Pleasant Grove’s Matt Van Komen is used to having up-and-down games offensively throughout his career.
In the 6A semifinals on Friday, underdog Fremont tried to be physical with the 7-foot-4 senior like just about every other team, but it had little impact.
Despite the best efforts from undersized Fremont, Van Komen dominated the interior with 25 points and 11 rebounds in leading the Vikings to a 72-55 victory at Weber State.
The 25 points was a new career playoff-high for Van Komen, with the previous high of 18 points coming in the quarterfinals against Weber last year.
In Pleasant Grove’s quarterfinal win two nights earlier, Van Komen only had 4 points as Herriman had a 6-foot-9, 270 body to throw at him. Friday’s matchup wasn’t nearly as difficult.
“A little easier to get a little better position, but they battled. He was tired. In timeouts when I was talking to him, he was huffing and puffing but he kept battling. He had a really effective game, he was the difference-maker because we had something they just didn’t have as far as that size advantage,” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister.
With the win, Pleasant Grove advances to Saturday’s 6A state championship at 5 p.m. where it will try and win its first state title since in 1961.
Last year, Pleasant Grove advance to the championship game but lost to Lone Peak.
“There is a feeling in that locker room that we’re back to where we were last year now,” McAllister said.
Pleasant Grove shot an impressive 53 percent from the field and enjoyed a 36-24 edge on the boards. Both were necessary in overcoming a strong shooting night beyond the arc for Fremont which made 11 3-pointers.
Three of those 3-pointers came in the first quarter as Fremont jumped out to the early 13-11 lead. Pleasant Grove opened the game in its zone defense, but quickly abandoned the strategy.
“You know that they’re a 3-point team that thrives on that, and we wanted to see how our zone matched up. They came out hot and that was an easy decision,” McAllister said.
Pleasant Grove opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run to build a 19-13 lead, a lead it maintained until halftime as Van Komen scored 9 of his 11 first-half points in the quarter.
All of his buckets came within 6 feet as he made a concerted effort to get into those quality positions.
“We worked on it a lot yesterday, just getting in good position rather than just being 15 feet out. That was huge. Some really good passes from teammates,” said Van Komen.
Down 30-25 at the half, Fremont couldn’t get anything going on dribble penetration with Van Komen protecting the rim, but it continued to knock down 3-pointers to remain within striking distance.
Kip Calder hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 58-51 with under six minutes remaining, and then Fremont had a chance to cut into the lead further on its next possession but missed a wide-open layup.
Pleasant Grove responded with a 13-0 run that included a punctuation alley-oop dunk from Van Komen on a pass from Tyler Fairbanks.Comment on this story
“He had a white jersey in his grill all night and he actually handled it way better than I expected him too. … He just keeps going and going and going 'cause he’s a great player. We were lucky he wasn’t on fire tonight but I think our defense forced him to give up the ball more than he typically does,” said McAllister.