Bishop makes a big difference for Miners
As a six-foot five-inch sophomore in high school, Park City’s Nicole Bishop enjoys some pretty rare air.
A physical force simply by virtue of standing up, Bishop has spent the last two seasons for the Miners adjusting to her size and using it effectively on the court.
This season’s progress was stymied a bit around Christmastime when an operation on her growth plates sidelined the starting center for a few weeks. But inside scorers everywhere better take note, because Friday against Union, Bishop was back, scoring a season-high 16 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Miners to a 45-33 victory.
"This was her breakout game," said Park City head coach Steve Crandall. "She’s now coming into her own."
And not a moment too soon. The girls are fighting to remain in playoff contention and wins this week against Morgan and Wasatch are paramount. The Bishop factor will cause new headaches for Region 10 defenses, who generally focus on Park City’s leading scorer Lauren Deane.
"We need her, especially as much as people key in on Lauren," Crandall said.
Count Union as their first victim as the Cougars double-teamed Deane, holding her to nine points, while Bishop made her run.
Union actually led the Miners 19-17 by the end of the first half, but at halftime, Crandall told the girls that they needed to step up their defense against the scrappy, athletic Cougars. The Miners did just that, holding Union to just four points, while they went on a 13-point run. In the fourth, the Miners outscored the Cougars 15-10.
"Our focus was to make these adjustments," Crandall said. "This team has been really good to do what I say."
Crandall praised the effort of Laurel Christensen, who finished the game with six rebounds and led the team with solid defense.
In fact, Crandall’s only complaint was scoring. Bishop was the only player in the game that scored in double digits, with guard Lacey Jones joining Deane with nine points and the rest of the team trailing behind them in point totals.
"We’re having trouble shooting and I’m not sure why," Crandall said.
They have to figure it out as soon as yesterday with games scheduled against Morgan and Wasatch.
At the start of the regular season, they lost to both squads one by a large margin against the Trojans and a double-overtime heartbreaker against the Wasps. But Crandall says that with Bishop back with a vengeance, this is a far different team from two weeks ago. The first game against Morgan was her first back and against Wasatch she was still winded and dealing with a lot of pain. But Bishop is no longer a liability for the Miners, making the second half of the season in competitive Region 10 a dogfight.
"This is a big week, bigger than the next," Crandall said.
Against the Wasps, the Miners must slow down their game and defend against their propensity to penetrate inside to shoot. But in this game, Bishop will be ready and waiting for anyone that dare step into her domain.
"She makes people change their shots a lot," Crandall said
The Miners will host Wasatch on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Park City High School gym.
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