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Hoopsters bid farewell to 2006

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

The Miners basketball team had one last chance to reach their postseason goal when they faced Union on Tuesday night. After finishing the regular season with the same record as Union, tied for fourth place, the Miners had the opportunity to capture the last seed for the playoffs. Unfortunately, they were about two quarters too late in the in the scoring column and lost to the Cougars, 60-41.

Things started well, with Park City jumping to an early 7-2 lead, but the Cougars soon caught up and kept rolling, outscoring the Miners 31-13 in the first half.

"We just didn’t execute or play together in the first half," said Miners head coach Troy Buford.

The Miners started scoring more in the second half, but things were already out of hand. The Miners did manage to pull within 13 points late in the third quarter, but a technical foul called on Wil Christensen set them back again. After drawing a foul, Christensen officially "stared down" one of the officials and received his second technical foul in two games, which ejected him from the game. The Cougars capitalized on the opportunity and made all four free throws and then scored on the ensuing possession, putting them 19 points ahead of Park City — a defect the Miners could not overcome.

"It was a huge momentum killer," Buford said. "I have no tolerance for disrespecting an official."

For the Miners, the loss ends both the season and their postseason hopes.

"It was very disappointing," Buford said. "It was a lot of hard work to just roll over like that. As a coach, and some of the players, were very disappointed to see the season end like that."

The Miners went on a late season losing skid after winning three games in mid-season region play. Buford said that much of his frustration stemmed from the fact that he felt his team could have made it into the postseason.

"We underachieved our goal," Buford said. "We had some guys lose focus and didn’t achieve what we should have. We certainly had the ability to do so."

There were some bright spots for the Miners. Though, junior Scott Case was able to hit three 3-pointers, and finished the night with 11 points. Much of that was due, in part, to senior Brady Ewell who distributed the ball to Case when he was open. Ewell, who was playing in his last high school game, had injured the middle fingers on his left hand in practice and valiantly played until the last minutes of the game, when the pain and swelling became too much for him to handle.

Leading scorer Brandon Buford ended his prep career with 16 points. Coach Buford said one of the problems with the team this year was a lack of scorers to make up the deficit when his shooters were having an off night.

"We couldn’t get our offense going," Buford said. "We need to have more scorers stepping up. We don’t have multiple good scorers like some schools."

The Miners will now focus on preparing for next year in the off-season. Buford has slated spring league play, summer camps and individual workouts to prepare players for next year.

The Miners will lose six seniors to graduation, but Buford is looking forward to a highly touted incoming freshman class stocked with a few players that could challenge upperclassmen for a spot on the varsity roster.

"I don’t care what grade you are in. If you can play, you can play," he said.

Buford is also hoping that other interested Park City youth will also join the team in the off-season and potentially play next year. All he asks for is a high level of motivation and commitment.

"I’m looking for guys who are hungry next year across the board," Buford said.


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