The Park City High school boys' basketball team bumped its home record to 2-1 Friday night with a rousing 67-57 win over the highly ranked Bear River Bears. The Miners' only home loss so far this season has been by a single point to Payson on Nov. 20.
The Miners' record on the road? Well, let's just say they've yet to win in four trips outside the city limits.
The Miners' road woes continued last week when they dropped a pair of non-conference games, losing to the 5A Taylorsville Warriors 53-43 on Tuesday in Taylorsville and to the 3A Ben Lomond Scots 65-51 on Wednesday in Ogden.
"In those games I thought we played very average against two teams that were good but not great," said Caleb Fine, the Miners' head coach. "Our transition defense was weak and we had terrible spacing (on offense)."
The odds didn't seem to be in the Miners' favor on Friday night either. Not only were they playing a team that was ranked among the top five 3A schools in all state polls, but the Miners had to start the game without their point guard, sophomore Bosten VanDerVeur. Fine kept VanDerVeur on the bench for a violation of team rules.
"What rule?" you ask. Well, team rules require players to wear "church appropriate" clothing on game days, which includes a tie, or you are benched for a quarter. VanDerVeur showed wearing a sweater, but went home and got a tie, so his penalty was reduced to the first two minutes of the game.
It's a good thing it wasn't any longer.
But with VanDerVeur back in the lineup, and the rowdy hometown crowd urging them on, the Miners evened the score and moved out to a four-point lead with a flurry of baskets just before the half.
"It's always good going into halftime knowing you don't have to claw back into the game," VanDerVeur said later.
The Miners opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run and fended off the Bears the rest of the way. VanDerVeur finished with a team-high 22 points for the Miners and senior Hayden Daily scored 21, including 12 points on four three-point shots. Senior Ryan Sherman finished with eight rebounds.
The Miners' 67 points represented their best offensive performance of the year.
"I was pleased with the way we performed as a team," Fine said. "We had better spacing (than in the other games last week), we defended with a sense of urgency, and that made it easier for us to score."
A key to the victory, Fine added, was the way Park City sophomore Sam Kingdon played defense on Bear River's star senior, Wade Miller.
"Sam really stepped up and was able to do an excellent job guarding Wade," he said. "They weren't able to get into their offense the way they wanted to."
Next up for the 2-5 Miners is a road game tonight against North Sanpete.
"They've struggled early this year, but they're always a very gritty team," Fine said.
Now all the Miners need to do is bottle the explosive energy they unleashed at home Friday and take it on the road with them.
"I feel like, if we can do that at away games, it will be a turning point," VanDerVeur said. "Taking that energy to away games: I hope that's something we can focus on going forward."
Adia Waldburger contributed to this story.