Park City falls prey to Wasps on road
As games go, the Miners’ road trip to neighboring Wasatch, was one both the boys and girls would like to soon forget. The boys lost at the end of a well-played, hard-fought game, 68-58, and the girls lost in a far less competitive style, 50-32. A late game sting
With both Wasatch and Park City neck-in-neck for the final spots in the playoffs, the Miners knew they had a battle ahead of them and managed to keep an edge all the way through the third quarter.
Park City started the fourth quarter with a one-point lead and the determination to win on the road. According to Miners head coach Troy Buford, the boys are playing their best basketball of the year and he hoped it would carry them to a win against the Wasps.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the fourth quarter, the team was distracted by a mix of a boisterous Heber hometown crowd and a series of fouls called against the Miners.
"I couldn’t hear myself talk on the bench," Buford said. "I know that affects you. I watched the kids unravel at the end. We tried, but we couldn’t overcome."
The Wasps shot a total of 33 free throws on the night, compared to the Miners 10. Wasatch began to build a late-game lead against the Miners at the charity stripe, which added to the Miners inability to regain their composure.
As the Wasatch lead grew, the Miners turned over the ball eight times in the fourth quarter, a glaring number compared to only four in the entire first half.
The Miners also had trouble finding their shot in the waning moments. All in all, Park City had a stunning 66-percent shooting night, hitting 23 out of 35 shots, but struggled at the end.
"We shot the ball well and executed well, but when we got down in the stretch, we couldn’t get the shot we wanted," Buford said.
Following a must-win game scheduled for Tuesday, the boys will prepare for senior night against bitter rival Judge Memorial.
The night will honor Park City’s senior players Brandon Buford, Wil Christensen, Brady Ewell, Mike Orrison, Tyler Smith and Oliver water. It will also give locals an opportunity to watch Judge’s Daniel Deane, the University of Utah-bound senior who has been billed as one of the best players in the state and also happens to be a resident of Park City.
Buford says he is expecting a packed house for the contest against Deane and the Bulldogs. He is also expecting his team to be more prepared for Judge than they were during the first half of Region 10 play. This mostly means containing the strong, high-scoring Deane.
"We need to do a better job at defending Deane," Buford said. "You’ve got to hold him to his average of 18 points."
At five inches taller than any Miners player, there is no one person who can guard the 6-foot 8-inch Deane, and double-teaming him only leads to fouls called on Park City. In the last game they put Deane at the free throw 14 times, which gave Judge a decided advantage. "He’s a good player and he’s going to get his numbers, we just have to make sure they don’t get inflated," Buford said.
Assuming the Miners win one of their last two games, they should claim a playoff spot and start preparing for play in the post-season.
The Miners will face Judge Memorial in the Park City High School gym at 7 p.m.
A tough game
When the Miners were unable to score a single point in the first quarter of the game against Wasatch, the Park City coaches knew they were in for a long night.
"We had shots, but we just didn’t make them," said Miners assistant coach Matt Mapstone.
He joked that in last week’s two losses, the girls played four good quarters, unfortunately just not all together. The Miners eventually started matching the Wasps in scoring in the second half, but by then, they were already in a significant double-digit deficit.
"Wasatch does a really good job," Mapstone said. "They prepare well."
The Miners are now in a position where they must win at least one more game to have a chance at a playoff spot. Union may also challenge them for the fourth and final spot, which would force a play-in game at a neutral site sometime next week.
"They know what they have to do and it has to happen," Mapstone said.
The Miners only have seven varsity players available to play for the rest of the season with freshmen guard Aundrea Hargroder out with a hip injury and center Nicole Bishop with a badly sprained ankle, but Mapstone isn’t worried at least for the final game of the regular season.
The Miners will wrap things up hosting rival Judge Memorial at home. Besides being senior night for Kim Mackaben, Liz Bailey and Carissa Fine, the girls will be fired up to play a Judge team that they lost to in a heart-breaking, last-second manner a few weeks ago in Salt Lake.
"These girls were so ticked off after that game," Mapstone said. "They will be ready to play. They are ready to play that game right now."
The rematch between the Miners and Bulldogs will take place this Friday in Gym 2 at Park City High School at 5:15 p.m.
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