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Miners give Judge two nights of action

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff
Wil Christensen is making a big difference for the Miners.
2Sports

Park City fans that traveled to Salt Lake for the much-anticipated basketball games against Judge Memorial certainly got their money’s worth. Thursday night, the girl’s lost a stunning heartbreaker at the buzzer 51-49, after a second-half rally. The next night, the boys played a very physical and promising game against against one of the top teams in the state, losing 76-63.

This one will leave a mark

The final buzzer sounded as Miners center Nicole Bishop grabbed the offense rebound. Both the Miners and the Bulldogs stood in total disbelief. "Judge is a little more important. The girls want to beat Judge every time. It’s different than Uintah or anyone else," Miners assistant coach Matt Mapstone said. "It’s one of the hardest places to play and we were right there." Both teams were shocked as the Miners failed to get the elusive basket that gave Judge the 51-49 win. "This is my 13th year. I’ve never seen a locker room like that," Mapstone said. The game didn’t start out that close. The first half presented a match-up problem for the Miners, who were unable to stop the Bulldogs from scoring and soon found themselves down by 12-point deficit at halftime. Luckily, the solution was a simple defensive change. Park City switched from zone defense to man-to-man, and effectively held the Bulldogs to seven points in the third quarter. The plan worked even better in the fourth as Park City kept the Bulldogs from scoring anything but three free throws. In the meantime, the Miners were going to work on the other end of the floor. The entire team got involved, outscoring the Bulldogs 20-10. It looked as though the Miners were going to cap off their second half dominance, when they closed in on Judge in the waning moments in the fourth quarter. With just seconds left, the Miners put the ball in the hands of sure-handed senior Liz Bailey who was open for a game-saving jumper, but missed the shot. "Liz didn’t take it well," Mapstone said. "That’s as hard as I’ve ever seen someone take something."

Head coach Steve Crandall and Mapstone were both proud of the girls’ effort in the second half, but that wasn’t a sentiment the team wanted to hear.

"No one played Judge that hard. I think they impressed everyone," Mapstone said. "Everyone played well."

Mapstone said that the girls are serious about getting back in the win column. Senior Carissa Fine actually watched hours of tape of Judge’s Cleresa Roberts just to prepare to guard her.

"Nobody’s done a better job on her," Mapstone said.

The Miners now desperately need a winning second half of region play. They have lost three of their last four games by a total of 11 points and need to figure out a way to win tight games. With five games left, the Miners will need to win at least three of those to make the playoffs.

"We are really looking forward to the second half. We create our destiny and it’s all so realistic, that it’s staring me in the face," Mapstone said.

Mapstone says that the team is doing everything that is being asked of them, they just need to exert 100-percent effort for the rest of the season.

The girls had a week layover between Judge and a home game against Union this Friday. Mapstone hopes that the anger from the Judge defeat will carry into the next game.

"We’re gonna take our frustration out on somebody," Mapstone said.

The Miners host Uintah at the Park City High School gym on Friday, Jan. 27 at 5:15 p.m. A hard-fought loss

What happens when the best player from Park City doesn’t play for Park City High School? For the Miners the answer was playing their hardest, regardless. Although they lost 76-63 to the region-leading Judge Bulldogs, who boast Parkite Daniel Deane, one of the top players in the state, they did so in what even Judge called a respectable fashion.

"It was intense game. Nobody in region has played us like that," Deane said.

Without a suitable match up to guard the hulking 6-foot 8-inch Deane, the Miners started out trying to run a very up-tempo game, one they thought the Bulldogs would not be able to keep up with. But with Deane able to roam unguarded, the plan was to no avail.

"Deane is such an animal. He’s hard to contain," Miners head coach Troy Buford said.

Luckily, the Miners have a pretty talented scorer in Brandon Buford who was able to earn 18 points in the first half and kept the Miners close, trailing just 33-28 at the half.

In the second half, the Bulldogs started triple-teaming Buford, continually running him into the sideline. Wil Christensen and Scott Case took advantage of the defensive pressure on Buford, making repeated baskets off of open looks at the basket. Christensen finished with 18 points, and Case made three three-point shots to finish with 11 points.

But Deane continued to dominate in all over the floor. Even though he finished with just two more points than Buford with 31, the Miners inability to guard him allowed him to grab 17 rebounds, 14 free throws and numerous blocked shots.

"I really liked how we used Wil in the middle. We just couldn’t stop Deane," Buford said.

Even in the loss, the Miners were encouraged to have played the Bulldogs so effectively.

"We played great. We don’t feel bad at all," said Brandon Buford.

Coach Buford agreed. "That was a confidence booster to them. To play Judge as well as they did we can be for real. We just have to go after it," Buford said. Buford hopes to see the continued one-two punch from Buford and Christensen as they begin the second half of region play.

"It’s pick your poison now," Buford said. "They can’t triple team more than one guy."

Brandon says that Christensen’s recent efforts have been the difference maker in their season.

"When I’m passing to him, it opens it up for us, because no one knows he’s there yet," Brandon said.

Coach Buford also hopes to see the boys continue to play aggressively. He says that the boys could conceivably beat the rest of the teams in region and might even have a an opportunity against Judge when they come to Park City later in the season.

"I’d love to take our chances against Judge," Buford said

The Miners will face Union at home on Friday at 7 p.m. in the high school gym.


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