Miner boys hold off aggressive Cougars
February 4, 2014
As Konnor Andersen stood with his back to the Park City High School student section on Friday night, with his classmates yelling encouragement at him and slapping him on the back, he kept looking across the floor to the Union High School bench, where the Cougars were taking far too long to break their huddle for his liking.
"Let’s go!" he yelled, eager to inbound the ball and get back to playing a hard-fought fourth quarter.
Andersen and his Miner teammates couldn’t wait to get the game started again, eager to see if they could hold onto their one-point lead.
Eventually, as the Cougars’ last shot missed the basket by a mile, landing in a confused and stunned Andersen’s arms with three seconds remaining on the clock, Park City would emerge with a 57-56 victory, finally winning a close game after so many tough losses earlier this season.
"We’ve really struggled with holding on to leads, so this is really good for our team," junior guard Bosten Van Der Veur said. "It’s good for our team to be able to secure a win when we were leading most of the game, instead of just crumbling in the clutch."
Van Der Veur, who led the Miners with 16 points despite scoring only four points in the first half because of foul trouble, was glad to see some of his teammates contribute big minutes in his absence.
"It was big-time," he said. "It’s really good to see that when I’m on the bench. And when they’re playing well, it makes my game a lot easier. I rely a lot on my teammates for what I can do on the court."
Park City coach Caleb Fine agreed with Van Der Veur’s assessment of the bench play on Friday night.
"Our bench had to step up," he said. "Bosten, there’s no secret, he’s really good and he scores a lot of points for us. And we need him to score for us. But he got two early [fouls]. Logan [Holbrook] comes in and has a great first quarter and really stepped up and made a couple threes. And Luke Carson, a sophomore, keeps getting better for us. We’re blessed to have him here.
"Guys are stepping up – Adam [Hutt] had a good game, Sam [Kingdon] had a tough night, but he played really well for us the past two games, and Konnor had some easy buckets."
Fine was proud of his team’s overall efforts, with nine different players scoring points in the win. Behind Van Der Veur’s 16 points, Reid Marks (eight points), Carson (7), Hutt (6), Andersen (6), Holbrook (6), Tom Wood (4), Kingdon (2) and Beau Story (2) all found their way onto the score sheet.
"It was an all-around win," Fine said. "Fortunately, we had just enough to get it done."
He added that it comes down to the energy the Miners showed.
"The biggest thing this team is doing differently, that they weren’t doing at the beginning of the year, is they’re playing as hard or harder than their opponents," he said. "We’ve learned to play hard, and that’s why we’ve been very competitive and tough in region."
Park City improved to 7-12 overall with the win. But, in Region 10 play, the Miners are now 3-2, which puts them in a good spot.
"It was a big win, coming in 2-2, trying to get back in the fight for a home playoff game," Van Der Veur said.
The top two teams in every region get to host a first-round playoff game, while the third- and fourth-place teams must travel for their playoff openers.
The schedule (at Juan Diego, vs. Morgan, at Uintah) doesn’t do the Miners any favors, but Fine said he thinks Park City can go 3-0 in that stretch.
"Morgan’s as good as it gets, Juan Diego’s got a kid who’s as good as there is and it’s really tough to play in Vernal [Uintah’s home]," he said. "We’ve got three tough games left, but I like our chances if we continue to play harder than our opponents and practice harder than our opponents."
After being out-rebounded 29-21 by the Cougars, Fine wants to shore up that part of the game, and the Miners’ defense in general.
"I’m not a coach that wants to give up more than 50 points," he said.
Van Der Veur agrees that he and his teammates need to rebound better and would also like to see Park City’s offense run more efficiently.
"If we can run and get quick offense, that will really help our team," he said. "When we push the ball, good things happen. Tonight, we lost the boards. We’re a pretty good rebounding team usually, so if we can rebound in these last couple games, we’ll be able to come out with wins."
Park City’s last regular season home game will tip-off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11.