The Thunder Mountain High School boy’s basketball team had another page of history in their hands ready to be written during double overtime at the 2013 4A boy’s state basketball tournament on Friday at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena.
Although that history will be scripted and read at a later date, the moments provided in this game will live on in the program’s young existence and set the bar for future Falcons’ teams.
“We unfortunately could not pull out the double overtime win against Palmer,” TMHS coach John Blasco said via email. “It was an incredibly hard fought game on both sides.”
Trailing in the second overtime, Vili Tupou hit a deep triple to give the Falcons a 57-56 lead with 1:41 remaining. Palmer’s James Nisbett took the lead back with a drive down the lane.
The Falcons patiently worked the ball and Ben Jahn was sent to the charity stripe. Jahn scored a game-high 25 points in the game, yet these two shots rimmed out.
Palmer’s Nathan Mayer was fouled by the Falcons’ Ty Grussendorf and hit two for a 60-57 lead.
The Falcons had been successful with spreading the court and finding the open man for a triple at the state tournament. On this possession, Josh Tupou’s pass was stolen by Palmer’s all-state guard Connor Looney who gave the Moose the final margin at 62-57.
Moment abounded in the game, as two tired teams were aggressive throughout.
Falcons’ senior Sam Jahn was whistled for his fifth foul at the start of the second overtime. The Falcons senior drew double coverage inside throughout the game as his reputation preceded him.
With 16-seconds remaining in the first overtime the Falcons’ Matt Seymour drove through the lane and dished off to Sam Jahn for a tying basket.
Palmer had 16 seconds to go the length of floor and Looney took the ball to the rim but missed the jumper. The Falcons had a last touch to inbound the ball but did not get the shot off in time.
Seconds earlier, Palmer’s Looney scored the first basket of overtime but then ran to the locker room. While another player hit two free throws for the Moose to go up 52-50, Looney and a teammate switched shorts on the baseline.
Shorts were the least of Looney’s problems as the Falcons’ B. Jahn, and the Tupou’s and Mike Uddipa contained the northern star throughout the game.
Ben Jahn scored seven points in the first quarter, and nine for the half, as the Falcons gave Palmer a solid effort. Palmer went on a 10-4 run to end the period up 12-10.
A triple by Jacob Calloway to start the second quarter put momentum on the Falcons side and the Jahn boys garnished some glass work with B. Jahn getting a basket and Seymour another plus an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the score at 20 all.
The lead would change three more times with the Falcons going into the half with a 25-24 lead.
B. Jahn attacked the basket on the opening play of the second half to earn a point at the charity stripe, and found himself there on the next possession as well, drawing fouls but no points.
Seymour drained a triple to give the Falcons a 29-24 advantage.
After Palmer took a one-point lead Jahn tied the game at 30 from the line.
The Falcons strategy of putting pressure on Looney and Nisbett paid off for TMHS as they drew the bonus midway through the third period.
B. Jahn hit a triple to tie the game with a minute left in the third. Palmer made a run but Grussendorf hit a deep corner triple to pull the Falcons within one, 38-37, as the third quarter played out.
Palmer picked up the tempo in the fourth quarter, pressuring full court and taking a three-point advantage early at 44-41.
Palmer’s Looney continued to be held at bay by B. Jahn while the Moose could not stop holding and fouling Jahn. Jahn’s 17th point brought the Falcons to within two points, 44-42.
With the Tupou brothers sitting on the bench Seymour gave the Falcons the 45-44 lead on a triple and Jahn nailed another triple for a four-point lead.
Looney snuck in on his first double figure basket of the night to get the Moose to within 48-46 with just under two-minutes remaining.
The Tupou’s returned to spread the court and pull Palmer out into a foul.
Josh Tupou found the line first but his shot went wide. The Moose couldn’t score and a held ball gave Palmer another chance and Selmer tied the game with 37 seconds remaining.
Blasco called time out to set up a play. Thunder Mountain got the ball inbounds but were trapped in the backcourt and Looney stole the ball.
A time out by the Moose set up a spread court play for Palmer. The Falcons had a foul to give and forced the Moose to set up another inbounds play that forced a missed shot and the beginnings of overtime action.
Ben Jahn garnished five rebounds to go with his 25 points, Seymour had 11 points and six rebounds, two assists and one steal; V. Tupou five points (3 RB, 4 AST, 3 ST), Jacob Calloway five points (1 RB, 1 ST), Sam Jahn four points (6 RB, 3 ST), J. Tupou four points (4 RB, 4 AST), Grussendorf three points.
Palmer’s Selmer scored 21 (10 RB, 3 AST, 2 ST), Looney 15 (5 RB, 3 AST, 3 AT), Nisbett 12 (6 RB, 2 AST), Mayer 4 (1 RB, 4 AST), and Cameron Christiansen (1 RB, 1 AS) Adam Ramoth (1 ST) two points apiece.
The Falcons hit 10-21 at the charity stripe, the Moose went 16-25. Thunder Mountain was 13-29 from the field and 7-22 from beyond the arch, while Palmer was 20-42 and 2-7, respectively.
The Falcons pressured the Moose into 14 turnovers while committing just nine. Thunder Mountain finishes the season with a 21-8 record.
“Ben Jahn was tremendous,” Blasco said. “He played all 40 minutes, had 25 points, and guarded a first team all state player in Conner Looney. We had our chances but could not close the game out. Even though we did not win this week., the guys played their hearts out and gve it all they had just like they have been doing for four years. Being here at state has been a great experience. We had a successful season, won the southeast championship and had the chance to compete in the state tournament after just four years of being a program.”
Ben Jahn was selected to the 4A boys all-state tournament team. The TMHS boys won the Team Sportsmanship Award.