Miners fall to Utes in late-season matchup
Tuesday was bound to be an interesting night. Both basketball teams were in a bit of a "must-win" situation with just two regular season games ahead of them in which to qualify for the 3A State playoffs. Unfortunately for the Miners, the Uintah Utes had the same intentions and beat Park City handily in both games
Of all the nights
Park City head coach Troy Buford has often told his team that any team in Region 10 could beat any other team in the league on any given night. Even with that knowledge, when the Utes rolled into town, winless in region play, it didn’t seem like there was anything to worry about.
And then the Utes shocked the entire gymnasium by finishing with a 73-percent shooting average for the night and winning by a shocking 92-69 score.
"You could have put a blindfold on those guys and it would have gone in," Buford said.
The Miners also had a decent shooting night, but their 49-percent was no match for the Utes. Led by Jake Butler who scored his 22 points almost entirely from an impossible seven three-pointers, Uintah was 27 for 37 for shots made on the night and 25 for 29 at the free throw line.
Up 50-33 at the half, the Miners stepped up their defense and figured that odds were that the Utes would not continue shooting well, but nothing changed.
"Sometimes, it’s just not their night," Buford said. "They are not a horrible team and I guess they saved it all up for us last night."
Whether or not the Miners are winners or losers after the Judge game scheduled on Friday night, the Miners may still have a chance. They are tied with Union for the fourth-place slot that would get them into the playoffs, and the Cougars finish their regular season against Morgan another tough team. If both Park City and Union lose, they will be forced into a play-in game for the final spot that will be staged in a neutral location next week. Buford just hopes that his player’s heads are in the right place.
"We have to wrap our heads around the task at hand." Buford said. "Maybe we’ll surprise some folks.
The bottom line
Although the Miners only lost 51-42 to Uintah on Tuesday, one aspect of their game seemed to be coming up short — very short. At the free throw line, Park City missed eleven shots more than the margin that would have earned them the win.
"We’ve never been a good free throw team all year," said Miners assistant head coach Matt Mapstone. "We don’t focus and take our time."
They are also struggling in the middle. With the loss of 6-foot 3-inch Nicole Bishop to a sprained ankle, Park City is forced to rotate three players that are all barely taller than 5-fett 11-inches.
"How do you not miss her," Mapstone says.
The Miners were trying to grab rebounds and block shots, but without the extra four inches, it seemed a Uintah player was always right there.
Park City will need to figure out how to win soon as they face a similar situation to their male counterparts, where a loss to Judge means a play-in game next week.
"It’s really easy right now," said Mapstone. "You win, you go to the payoffs. You lose, you go home."
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