Miners drive Trojans to double overtime
It seems that the Miners’ secret might finally be out.
Long gone is the team of the preseason that regularly gave games up by 20 points or more. Sure they fell a few points short of beating Region 10 rival Morgan on Tuesday night, losing 71-67, but it took two overtimes and most of the Morgan bench to do it.
"The Morgan coach commented on how most of the players were after the game and just how much they wanted to win," Park City head coach Matt Nagel said.
Nagel wasn’t glossing over the loss with just a few games left in the regular season to earn a playoff berth, but his team’s "maximum effort," as he put it, is turning heads.
"It was a game to remember," Nagel admitted.
And so it was. The Miners struggled against the taller, more athletic Trojans in the first quarter, trailing 16-9. But after a brief regrouping, Park City was back on track, tying Morgan at 16 points in the second quarter and outscoring them in the third, 21-13.
The Miners’ survival ultimately came down to the three-point shot. At the end of the third, Lucas Tucker hit a pivotal three-point shot in the waning seconds of the quarter to give the Miners their first lead of the game, 46-45. The shot started the Miners on a dogfight with the Trojans that continued until the end of regulation. With less than a minute left, and the Miners down three at 57-54, Alex Berry hit another three to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, the Trojans took the early lead, edging out the Miners 64-61 with less than a minute on the clock. Then with 16.5 seconds left, the Miners would again look to the outside shot to keep them in the contest. Tucker, the team’s three-point specialist, contributed yet another for the tie. He tried one more time at the buzzer from half court, but the shot hit the rim and bounced away, sending the game into a double overtime.
In the final overtime, the Trojans’ Alex Smittle, a lanky six-foot six-inch senior, was able to shoot over the Miners to add to his game-leading 26 total points. A sure-handed Morgan supporting cast also contributed and the Miners gave up the fight losing, 67-72.
The Miners were visibly devastated. Tucker, who finished the game with a team-high 24 points, and six three-pointers, headed to the locker room and vomited.
"It was not a question of drive or heart," Nagel said.
What Nagel was worried about was missed opportunities throughout the game.
"In an overtime game, it comes down to one point and how many times did we have to make up one point," Nagel said. "Rebounds, free throws, layups, calls anyone of those things can change a game by one point."
With Wasatch scheduled for Friday and Uintah on the road next Tuesday, the Miners need to make small adjustments to keep close games from slipping through their hands. He is concerned about the team’s reliance on the outside shot and the number of rebounds they gave up in the first half.
"We’re a team that prides ourselves on rebounds," lamented Nagel.
Ryan Papez led the team in rebounds with 11 and Berry added eight, but Nagel wants a total team effort off of the glass.
"That’s great, but the issue is not them, but those six others that need to fight for position," Nagel said.
The Miners were able to beat Wasatch in their first game of the season with good fundamentals and superior fitness, and Nagel just hopes they can maintain that composure. The Miners earned their first regular seasons wins against Wasatch and Uintah, so both games should be winnable, and are necessary to stay in the playoff picture.
"We’re going to have to be a lot better on offense than the last few games," Nagel said.
Right now, Nagel gets offensive results from different players each night and just hopes they can all come together in the last few region games.
The Miners will have one of their final chances on Tuesday at Union at 7 p.m.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.