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No consolation for Bengals

OGDEN — The words were meant to comfort and congratulate the Brighton High boys basketball team.

"There are a lot of schools who would like to be where you're at right now," said the official holding the second-place trophy. He told them they were a credit to their school and sports, and then he handed the trophy to the team's center, senior Garner Meads.

The 6-foot-8-inch boy's chin quivered as he nodded a thank-you to the man.

Only the team and its coaches could hear what he had to say as the rest of the Dee Events Center was consumed in the celebration of Copper Hills' win, 45-39, over Brighton Saturday night.

Copper Hills are the 5A state champions. They were in the middle of the mob of family and friends and victory.

The words and the trophy were no consolation for what the Bengal team did not have, what it did not accomplish.

"Close doesn't cut it," said Meads after meeting with his team for the last time this season. "I wanted to win this . . . There's not a whole lot you can say to (teammates). They're my best friends. I feel bad we couldn't take it all the way."

Despite leading his team all season, including Saturday's game in which he scored 14 points, the All-American didn't feel any more or less responsible for the disappointing result.

"We win and lose as a team," he said, wiping his eyes. Then he added, "But you always look back and ask yourself what you could have done differently."

The standout senior will not have a state championship among his many accomplishments, but his coach, who retired when the final buzzer sounded, said that shouldn't matter to a team that made his final season pure joy.

"I've enjoyed this team as much as any I've coached," said coach Jim Jimas of his Bengals, who finished the regular season 10-2 and won the region championship. "It was a nice way for me to go out — coaching them. They've just made this season so enjoyable."

The loss was sadly reminiscent of when Jimas decided to leave Hillcrest in 1986. His team lost the state championship to Brighton High that year. He doesn't feel bad about ending with a loss just that his team is suffering so much after playing with so much heart.

"We had a few lapses," Jimas said. "Both teams fought hard . . . I feel the worst for them. Their goal wasn't to come here and be second. I knew it would be a hard-fought game tonight."

He said there are "always a number of things you look at and think you could have done differently," but he has no regrets about the game, the season or retiring.

"I'm going to teach for about two more years and then just enjoy myself without the pressure of coaching," he said. There is stress for a coach whether you win or lose, but the "jubilation of winning makes it worthwhile."

"Losses like this take something out of you," he said. "But I'm just so proud of this group of kids. Hopefully, in a day or two, they'll realize they really had a great season."