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Miners are on the winning track

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff
Tyler Smith, left, prepares to take a shot.
0Sports

On Friday, the Union Cougars received a double dose of something that the Miners’ newfound confidence. However, with both teams finding their groove in region play, Park City sent the Cougars back to Roosevelt empty-handed, with the girls winning, 49-33, and the boys, in a closer contest, won 46-43.

Raining threes

The first half started out slowly for the Miners.

The Cougars began the game playing a very controlled style with passing and communication that kept the ball at their end for as much as 40 seconds at a time. At the other end, the Miners were making two or three passes and finishing with an ill-advised shot. After the first, Union led Park City 19-10. In the second, the Miners came back on defense, only allowing Union to score four points. Still, paltry shooting continued to linger and the Miners headed into the half down, 23-16.

And then Scott Case’s hand started to get warm.

"He’s a very, very confident shooter. If he’s open, he’s shooting," said Miners head coach Troy Buford.

Case, however, missed his first shot in the first quarter and started making bad offensive decisions that eventually earned him a seat on the bench for the rest of the half. Then, after receiving a boost of confidence from the coaching staff before the start of the third quarter, Case started scoring.

Hitting four three point shorts, all in the second half, Case led the Miners on a decisive comeback.

"When the coach has confidence, its really easy to shoot," Case said.

The heat spread from Case to Wil Christensen and Brandon Buford, who began to hit more shots, and the overall offense improved. Buford said at halftime he told the team that if they weren’t patient, they would not win.

The Miners began passing more and making better shot selections. They turned around from shooting seven of 24 shots in the first half to hitting an impressive 12 of 16 shots, a 75-percent shooting average.

"They played a much better second half, because they were patient offensively," Buford said.

The Union defense also helped the Miners out. When the Cougars would collapse defensively on the two main scorers, Christensen and Buford, they would immediately kick the ball out to Case on the perimeter.

With the win, the once hapless Miners are suddenly third in Region 10 and will likely capture a playoff berth if they keep winning in the second half of league play.

Buford is hoping the team’s patience and composure will continue for the rest of the week with powerhouse Morgan scheduled for Tuesday and a game against neighboring rival, Wasatch, on Thursday. The Miners are expecting a battle from the Wasps who are also vying for one of the last playoff spots.

The boys will face Wasatch on the road on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Just a nice win

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t memorable, but it was a win and in a league as competitive as Region 10, that’s all that matters.

"It was an ugly win. We just had to grit it out," Miners girls assistant coach Matt Mapstone said.

Both teams were evenly matched in the second with the Cougars. Leading by only a basket at the half.

Then the Cougars aggressive defense that kept the Miners at bay in the first half began to get them in trouble in the second. Most of Union’s starting lineup was in foul trouble by the middle of the third quarter and which translated into the Miners shooting whopping 25 free throws. Liz Bailey alone threw up 11 from the charity stripe.

Mapstone said that after that point, much of the win just came naturally. The Miners pulled away in the fourth quarter, winning decisively, 49-33.

The entire starting lineup contributed points to the win. Mapstone was especially pleased at the contributions from Nicole Bishop and Allie Winkelman to round out the varsity squad. He also noticed the over all demeanor was far less serious than in previous games.

"We’re a little bit more loose," Mapstone said.

The Miners must now take their winning ways on the road against Morgan in a game scheduled for Tuesday night and then face rival Wasatch on Thursday. Mapstone expects the Wasatch game to be "dogfight" over two well-matched teams.

"Who’s gonna want it more?," Mapstone said. "It’s a war, basically."

The Miners take on Wasatch at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.


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