PCHS boys’ basketball: Miners face ‘big’ Hurricane Tigers in first round | ParkRecord.com

PCHS boys’ basketball: Miners face ‘big’ Hurricane Tigers in first round

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

The gym rang with laughs as players joked with one another while the coaching staff was shooting jump shots.

Thursday featured a one-hour practice for the players, followed by a scrimmage against the coaching staff and other teachers at Park City High School.

Is this how the Park City High School boys’ basketball team plans to approach tonight’s first-round playoff game at Hurricane?

"There’s no sense in being tight," said third-year head coach Caleb Fine, wearing a black Park City basketball uniform. "We are the underdog."

The Miners (11-10) enter the first round of the 3A state playoffs on the heels of a two-game skid and, more importantly, a disappointing Region 10 performance. Prior the season, the senior-laden team — nine in all — had high hopes.

The talent was there, no doubt, but Park City struggled in the toughened region, going 5-5, including a disappointing senior-night loss to Juan Diego on Feb. 7.

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Now, Fine and Co. must take their show on the road, as they have the last two seasons, to see if they can shock a higher seed in the 3A tournament.

Park City’s opponents, the Hurricane Tigers, are very big. A front line that features a 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 duo will no doubt present issues for the run-and-gun Miners tonight down south. The No. 2 seed out of Region 9, the Tigers had a 15-5 record this season.

But as senior point guard Heath Vincent said, Park City has an advantage against size.

"I think if we run, we can outrun their big players because they’re big and they’ll tire out," he said.

It’s no secret that Park City’s strength is in the fast break, with seniors Jono Schettler and Britton Buford wreaking havoc with their athleticism and ability to attack the basket. Throughout the season, Fine said his team could stay with any team if it could follow a simple formula: rebound and defend the basket.

Hurricane’s size will pose a threat to both elements of Fine’s formula, but he said it’s time his team plays its best when it counts the most.

"When we defend and rebound, that’s how we score, and how we win games," he said. "We’ve never lost a game where we defended and rebounded."

Park City will also face a challenging Tigers’ zone defense. Throughout the season, Park City has struggled to stretch defenses from behind the arc, often falling to lesser teams simply because of its inability to trade two-point baskets for shots from 3-point range.

"We’re fixing ourselves up for that," Buford said of Hurricane’s defense. "We’ll definitely have to hit shots, or else they’ll just stay in that zone. We’re just counting on it to happen."

Fine said it will be a matchup of opposing strengths tonight but he said he’s excited to see how his squad measures up to the challenge of, yet again, traveling south for a first-round showdown. Last year the Miners fell to Richfield; in 2010, Park City lost to Cedar.

"They’re big," Fine said of the Tigers. "We’ll found out how intimidating they are when we get down there.

"I’m confident we’re going to go in there loose and we’re going to keep preaching attack."

After an impressive preseason, which featured down-to-the-wire losses to 4A Skyline and Logan and a six-point loss to No. 1-ranked Desert Hills, the Miners thumped highly-ranked Morgan by 20 points on Dec. 29. Since then, Park City has traded wins and losses, going 5-6 over its last 11 games.

"I feel like we’re confident," Vincent said, "but not overconfident. We have a lot to play for because we’ve been together for so long."

Buford, Park City’s explosive forward, said he’s just eager for tip-off.

"I don’t know if it will really hit us until we’re down there for the game," he said. "We’re getting there. We’re loose.

"We’ve lost the past two years, so we’re finally going to see if we can make a run at it."

As for Fine, the former Miner turned head coach, kept preaching his formula for his team to win. A whistle blew as the scrimmage between the young guns and the old guys began Thursday at Park City High School.

"We’re going to try and give them a different look with the coaches, which should be some fun. (The players are) looking forward to this," he said.

And what about shocking the towering Tigers on the road?

"If we’re able to get stops and rebound, we’ll be able to run and that will be to our advantage," Fine said as he jogged onto the court.