In the coming years, when Matt Van Komen and Rylan Jones are playing for Utah, Pleasant Grove guard Kael Mikkelsen will remember making the winning basket in the only game the future Utes played against each other in high school.
Mikkelsen’s driving layup at the buzzer Tuesday night gave the Vikings a 61-60 victory at Olympus, after Van Komen and Jones contributed to five lead changes in the last 70 seconds.
The Titans went 27-0 last season, but the defending Class 5A state champions’ winning streak didn’t carry over to 2018-19. Even after losing to last season’s 6A runner-up, though, Jones graciously said he “couldn’t ask for a better game to start my senior season.”
That’s because he only could admire how Mikkelsen matched him by delivering two baskets in the last 14 seconds — “a case of great players making great plays,” Jones said.
“When you’ve got Rylan Jones on the other side, you’re never comfortable,” said PG coach Randy McAllister, who also marveled about Mikkelsen’s clutch plays. Mikkelsen may never have been in that position if not for Kawika Akina’s being sidelined with a broken hand and Casey Brown’s having fouled out, but he came through.
Jones and Van Komen signed two weeks ago as part of Utah’s class of 2019 that includes Finnish forward Mikael Jantunen.
Jones, Olympus’ 6-foot-1 guard, scored 26 points and teammate Jeremy DowDell added 21. Jones’ pull-up shot in the lane and his driving layup gave the Titans two leads in the last 33 seconds. Van Komen, Pleasant Grove’s 7-4 center, made his biggest impact in the fourth quarter. He scored nine of his 19 points in the final period, while blocking Jones’ shot (one of his four blocks). Van Komen’s 3-point play gave the Vikings their first lead of the second half at 57-56 with 1:09 to play.
That’s when things started getting crazy.
Jones missed a 3-pointer, with Van Komen rebounding the ball. Jones then stole the ball near midcourt, wheeled and drove into the lane for a go-ahead jumper. After the Vikings lost the ball via a charging foul with 21 seconds left, Olympus had to in-bound the ball three times. Pleasant Grove kept fouling, with the Titans not yet in the bonus. The third time, Olympus couldn’t get the ball to Jones, as Mikkelsen converted his steal into a basket to give PG a 59-58 lead.
Jones immediately drove all the way for a go-ahead layup with 5.2 seconds left, leaving the Vikings one last chance from their baseline. Olympus closely guarded Van Komen, PG’s first option, so Mikkelsen in-bounded the ball to Tim Nichols, then got it right back. He drove down the left side, past Jones and all the way to the hoop for the winning score.
Pleasant Grove is 5-0, having won four games in a Thanksgiving tournament in Illinois.