Buford: goodbye to basketball
In a fast, high-tempo game like basketball, it seemed almost fitting yesterday when the boys basketball went from having a head coach to having no one in a matter of hours.
On the heels of a rough 0-7 start to the season, Park City High School boys basketball coach Troy Buford decided to resign as head coach of the varsity squad.
According to Park City High School athletic director Doug Payne, Buford’s decision came at about noon on Wednesday. The resignation followed a team meeting the night before where concerns over the rough season start were discussed and Buford promised to make a determination about his status as head coach the following day.
Buford cited team disunity as a major contributor to his decision.
"Some kids were dissenting and supported from outside sources and it made it difficult to bring them together," Buford said. "For the rest of the team, I decided it was time to step aside for the good of the rest of the team. I appreciate the 95 percent of players that supported me."
Much of the unhappiness stemmed from a team displeased with their record and some held Buford responsible, Payne said
"They just didn’t like the direction," Payne said. "Troy has put a lot of work in. I hate to see him leave that."
Buford says he has helped to ensure that there are quality development programs in the area to feed into the high school program. The 5-3 freshman team is the first product of this program.
Still, the pressure and the desire to make the best decision for the varsity team forced Buford to choose to leave the program.
"I’m worn out and tired of trying to pacify a lot of people," Buford said.
Even with dissenting factions, Buford said he still felt comfortable and supported by a majority of the team and theirs parents.
"It’s not a majority, in fact, it’s a minuscule minority," Buford said. "Ninety-eight of people appreciate what you are doing in a program that has had no success in the past few years."
Buford said he always felt the support of Payne and the Park City High School administration.
"Doug Payne has been amazing," Buford said. "I can’t say enough good things about him."
Buford said he already has a few prep assistant coaching offers, but plans to focus more on his family and Salt Lake business for the time being.
With a game scheduled on Wednesday night against West, the resignation left a vacancy that needed to be filled immediately. Payne called on the help of Park City assistant women’s basketball coach Matt Mapstone. When Payne approached him with the request, Mapstone said he was shocked, but more than willing to help in any way needed.
"I wouldn’t leave them high and dry," Mapstone said.
Mapstone quickly adjusted running a mix of Buford’s plays, the girl’s plays and also used the opportunity to open things up a bit and let the boys create some of their own shots and screens. Most of the shots didn’t fall, but senior Searle Vincent said it was nice to have the freedom.
Unfortunately, the Miners were no match for the high-powered and sure-shooting 4A West Panthers. Led by star Nate Mensah, the Panthers rolled over the Miners 87-43. Known for their skill outside of the arc, West hit eight three-pointers on the night.
"That’s a darn good basketball team," Mapstone said. "They couldn’t have been a lot better."
Besides difficulty with shooting, Park City also struggled with rebounding, but Mapstone said the boys are trying their best.
"I thought the effort was fantastic," Mapstone said. "They looked me in the eye and showed me a lot of respect. West that’s just a good team."
Vincent says that team unity should bring better play.
"If we come together as a team, then I think we will be a lot better," Vincent said.
Mapstone applauded the boys in the loss, saying that just coming out strong took effort after a hard day.
"They had an event-filled day," Mapstone said. "I asked them to do it and they did it."
He said that the team morale was fair, but they need to focus and leave the beginning of the season behind them if they want to revive their game.
Vincent was pleased that the Miners showed flashes of good play throughout he game and is hoping things will come together now that the team drama off of the court is over.
"We’ve got a lot of pieces," Vincent said. "It’s just putting them together and playing the whole game now."
The boys were scheduled to play at Grantville Friday night and again after the holiday break on Dec. 29 against the American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork at 7 p.m.
Park City English teacher Matt Nagel, who was announced as the new head coach on Thursday afternoon, will lead the team. Ed Potts and George Murphy will serve as his assistants.
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Summit County heard from the Park City Community Foundation that the county’s $1 million grant last year likely helped hundreds of people avoid homelessness. The nonprofit’s representatives said open lines of communication were key to ensuring that grant money went where it was needed. | Courtesy of the Park City Community Foundation