Hoopsters lose heartbreakers at home
Sometimes, in the game of basketball, it’s all about how the ball bounces. On Tuesday night, the Park City High School basketball teams hosted Juan Diego Catholic High School in back-to-back games. Both teams played well enough to win, yet in some twist of karmic cruelty, both teams were narrowly defeated during the waning seconds of their games. Second half woes for the girls
The girls began the first half of their first home game of the season with relative ease, going up 14-10 in the first quarter and widening the gap to an almost 10-point lead, 29-21, heading into the half. And then it all seemed to fall apart as Juan Diego outscored the Miners 29-18 to even up the contest in the second half.
According to assistant coach head coach Matt Mapstone, the problem was nothing new a lack of focus that the team hasn’t yet figured out how to overcome. Last week at the Bear River Tournament, the team struggled in their final game against Weber, because they lost intensity early on. The team met after that game and addressed the problem. So, on Tuesday when the team played a cohesive, intense first half against the Soaring Eagle, head coach Steve Crandall and his staff figured the girls had found the solution, but somehow the cushy lead robbed them of their original intentions.
"They were great in the first half and then they forgot about it," Mapstone said.
Miners’ starting guard Liz Bailey said that it seems as though the team knows how to come from behind or stay in a tight game, but when they are way ahead, they just can’t seem to win. Mapstone agreed.
"We do not have the ability to bury someone when we’re way ahead," he said.
The glitches extended to the defensive side of the ball. The girls effectively shut down the Soaring Eagle’s leading scorer Kristin Lyons, but somehow left Sarah Lindmar open. The hole would cost the Miners, as Lindmar finished the night with 18 points for Juan Diego. "We didn’t do our job," Mapstone said. Still, even with the second half struggles, the Miners were still in a position to tie up the game with seconds left on the clock and Park City down 47-50. As the final play started, the Miners seemed almost confused and failed to get the ball to an outside shooter for the three points to take the game into overtime. "It was an exclamation point of the last 16 minutes," Mapstone said. A convincing win would have put the Miners at an even 2-2, and put them in control as they head south for a weekend swing through Dixie and Cedar City. Now the girls must hit the road again with questions about their intensity still looming. "We needed that kind of win, but we couldn’t get it done," Mapstone said. "We have five games left in the preseason and we expected to win them all, especially that one, so that kind of said it." Mapstone says that lineup changes will likely ensue until the Miners coaching staff can determine which players will play hard for the entire game. "It’s all about intensity. The intensity creates quality things. When you don’t have it, things don’t happen," Mapstone said. Mapstone says that he understands that the team is young, but hopes that they begin to take responsibility and that all of the players begin playing well together. In the summer, the talent-laden players were perpetual winners, so Mapstone is hoping the Miners can find their winning stride before region play starts in three weeks. "I think we can compete," Mapstone said. "Hopefully, we are a sleeping giant." Boys playing with confidence
The boys finally played the game that head coach Troy Buford had dreamed of. Players stepped up on both sides of the ball to bring the Miners in position to grab their first win against defending 2A state champion Juan Diego. Unfortunately, the game finished much like girls’ contest, and the Miners lost 48-46, unable to get a shot off in the waning moments.
"We saw a peak of what they could put together," Buford said. That was how we should play every game."
The biggest change in the Miners’ game was the fourth-quarter play. After fading in the final eight minutes through most of the preseason, the Miners were visibly determined to keep themselves in the game until the final buzzer sounded. Even as Juan Diego scored the first points of the fourth quarter, the Miners maintained their composure and quickly answered back.
"They realized what it feels like to play four quarters of good basketball," Buford said.
In fact, it was that mental hurdle that Buford feels will help his team to start winning. Until the Juan Diego game, Buford thought that many of the Miners lacked the faith and confidence that they could play well and win games.
"I think Tuesday night was a turning point, because they were right there," Buford said.
Not only did the Miners have a 48-percent shooting night, but they played a solid defensive game against a much taller team. Senior Wil Christensen finished the night with four blocked shots and held Juan Diego’s leading scorer, Mike Larsen, to just seven points. He also turned in a season-high nine points. Fellow senior Oliver water controlled the boards, coming up with eight rebounds and two points off of an offensive rebound.
"If we play well, it doesn’t matter if we’re small if we play with tenacity," Buford said.
Miners’ leading scorer, senior Brandon Buford, had 20 points and distributed the ball more, finishing with eight assists. Coach Buford said that he was happy to see Brandon creating more offense for the rest of the team, but wants him to be even more effective on offense as they head towards region play next month.
The Miners take on Rowland Hall on Friday night in Salt Lake at 7 p.m. and Buford hopes that the Miners can transfer Tuesday’s effort into a first win for the team.
"They know what that feeling is and they like it and they need to keep doing that for each other," Buford said.
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