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High school boys basketball: Freshman Jordan Ross’ play late lifts Pleasant Grove over Lone Peak 77-71

Viking freshman phenom showed poise beyond his years during his team’s big game versus rival Lone Peak on Tuesday.

Lone Peak’s Kyle Schilling and Pleasant Grove’s Kael Mikkelsen compete for the ball in a high school boys basketball game at Pleasant Grove High School on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Lone Peak’s Kyle Schilling and Pleasant Grove’s Kael Mikkelsen compete for the ball in a high school boys basketball game at Pleasant Grove High School on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

PLEASANT GROVE — Pleasant Grove freshman Jordan Ross isn’t even old enough to drive a car, although his poise when driving the lane late versus Lone Peak on Tuesday played big.

The 15-year old freshmen hit a key tear-drop shot in the lane late, along with two key free throws in the final seconds to fend off the visiting Knights 77-71.

Altogether the freshman phenom led the Vikings with a game-high 20 points while proving his best during the game’s final minutes.

“It just shows what kind of competitor he is and he’s still coming,” said Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister. “The game just isn’t that fast to him, anymore, and guys aren’t that big to him anymore.”

Indeed the freshman has made enormous strides this year, and could very well wind up as one of the top recruits in the state by the time he’s a senior, all things considered.

“He’s a special talent,” McAllister said.

But Ross was far from perfect, and neither was his team, leaving McAllister a bit exasperated, although understanding at game’s end.

Leading by big points throughout, the Knights forged a big comeback in the fourth quarter, cutting a 26-point second half Pleasant Grove lead to just two, at 69-67 with just two minutes remaining.

But enter Ross, who calmly made true on two free throw attempts shortly after, keeping the Knights at bay. He then effectively ran the point and hit two more in the final minutes to secure the win.

“Just keep playing and don’t hang your head down,” Ross said of his mentality while Lone Peak was making its big run. “Just keep playing ... at the end of the day it’s just basketball.”

For McAllister, he’s been around for a long time, coaching the Vikings to some deep runs in the playoffs while becoming intimately familiar with Lone Peak. All that experience made Tuesday’s late run by the Knights not surprising, in the least, and even expected.

“It’s a game where there’s going to be a run. You just know it,” McAllister said. “We didn’t tell the kids that, but you know they’re going to come with pressure, and they did ... but it’s just great to have your team put in that scenario ... to be able to withstand that made this a really productive night for us.”

As far as production goes, Pleasant Grove had a whole lot of it during a first half where just about everything went right, at least on the offensive end. When the first 16 minutes were up, the Vikings showed a big 49 points on the scoreboard, to lead 49-28 at the half.

“We just executed the way we’ve expected (our players) to all season,” McAllister said. “We’re coming along and figuring it out. We played great at all facets.”

Most of the points came on being aggressive to the hoop, led by the play of forwards Isaac Vaha, who finished with 15 points on the night, and Kael Mikkelsen, who finished with 13.

As good as the Vikings were in the first half, they were that much better in the opening minutes of the third quarter. A quick 8-2 run out of the gate saw the home team take a 57-31 lead, before Lone Peak scored 11 straight and then cut the lead to just 61-53 entering the fourth quarter.

Leading the Knight comeback was Jared Jensen, who scored a team-high 19 points, along with both Josh Jackson and Corbin Zentner, both of whom added 18.

“I’m just really proud of how we withstood it, and he we were able to finish,” McAllister said.

With the win Pleasant Grove improves to 12-8 overall and 5-2 in Region 4 play. Lone Peak falls to 11-7 overall and 4-3 in Region 4 play, with the loss.