Miners stun Wasatch with 70-61 win
When the Park City High School boys basketball team fell to the Morgan Trojans in double overtime last week, the entire team learned something every point counts.
Building on that knowledge, the Miners were encouraged by the coaching staff to come out against Wasatch on Friday night with scoring on their minds.
"Our focus was on scoring right away," Lucas Tucker said.
And Tucker led by example, scoring an incredible five three-pointers in the first half en route to burying the Wasps in a 70-61 victory.
"I didn’t mean for Lucas to hit five three-pointers in the first half," Park City head coach Matt Nagel said incredulously. "He was cooking."
Tucker finished the half with 17 points and the game with 20. Case matched his effort, also finishing with 20 points in the game and four three-pointers.
The Wasps, on the other hand, never got into their offensive groove. Scorers Mike Pelo led the team with 20 points, and Taylor Woodruff had only 14 points — far less than his usual total.
"Searle Vincent and Ryan Daniels played man-to-man defense against Woodruff and held him to 14 points," Nagel said.
halftime, the Miners led 38-30. They carried the scoring spree into the third, outscoring the Wasps 19-8. The Wasps were allowed back in somewhat in the fourth with numerous trips to the free-throw line, but it was too little too late.
As happy as Nagel was with the outside shooting of Tucker and Case, he was concerned that the team was too reliant on the outside shot.
"You get nervous winning a game on three-pointers," Nagel said. "You can be ice cold as quickly as you can be red hot."
At the end of the game, Nagel said that he encouraged the team to start going to the rack in the next game.
"We’re excited to have a win, but winning on three-pointers is not heart-warming to a coach."
What did warm Nagel’s heart was the total team effort by the Miners. Alex Berry and Ryan Papez contributed nine and 11 points, respectively.
"When you get 8-12 points from Berry and Papez and the usual 15-20 from Tucker and/or Case, then we win games," Nagel said. "When Case and Tucker are the only ones scoring, we don’t do well."
Ryan Daniels also stepped up for the Miners, using his ball handling skills and court vision to not only get the ball to Case and Tucker over and over, but also garner eight points for himself.
"It was his best game all year," Nagel said. "We worked all week on initiating offense quickly. In this game, Daniels was actively seeking shots and taking them for himself."
Nagel just hopes the trend of confidence and effort continues.
"If we get that from all three every game, it opens things up for Tucker and Case," Nagel said.
After Friday’s game, the Miners had only two games left in the regular season to keep up the good work. One scheduled against Uintah on Tuesday and a final meeting with their nemesis, Judge Memorial, on Friday. Although the Miners would love nothing more than to finish off their unlikely string of regular season success with a win against top-ranked Judge, their focus after the Wasatch game was solely on Uintah, who they knew they had to beat in order to earn a guaranteed ticket to the playoffs.
"We have to take care of business in Vernal," said Nagel after the game. "Our whole plan is to win Tuesday."
With a playoff berth clinched, the Miners will be free to have fun and try their best to break down the Bulldog’s potent offense. Nagel says he has a scheme up his sleeve that he wants to try against Judge, but he will only bring it out if the Miners have already secured their postseason spot. Otherwise, Friday night will mean the most intense pressure the Miners have faced all season.
"If we are in a must-win situation, lets see how easy it will be to make those free throws and how easily those three-pointers drop," Nagel said.
The Miners will face the Judge Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Friday night, Feb. 9 in Salt Lake.
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