PCHS boys’ basketball: Wasps fly by Miners again | ParkRecord.com

PCHS boys’ basketball: Wasps fly by Miners again

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

HEBER — The mental edge is nestled comfortably within the halls of Wasatch High School.

It’s been nearly five years since the Park City High School boys’ basketball team defeated its archrival and Friday night’s showdown in Heber proved no different.

After senior forward Britton Buford had drained one of his prototypical mid-range jumpers to give Park City a 15-12 lead with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter, the Wasps blitzed the Miners — outscoring them 19-2 before halftime — en route to another rivalry win, 60-45, in front of a packed house. Led by seniors Matt Pelo (19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) and Zack Watts (21 points), Wasatch surged past the Miners. The Wasatch duo drained four 3-pointers and scored all of the team’s 19 points during the scorching second-quarter run.

From the midway point of the second quarter until the start of the fourth, Wasatch outscored Park City 34-9.

"It was a meltdown," said Park City head coach Caleb Fine. "Going into the game, I definitely felt like the boys were ready to play hard. Unfortunately, midway through that second quarter, we were not able to rebound or defend effectively, and when we don’t rebound or get stops, we’re not that good on the offensive end."

For the second consecutive outing, Park City’s transition and perimeter defense was sorely lacking as Wasatch was able to get out and run and find open shooters planted behind the arc.

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Over the course of the last two games, the Miners have allowed 16 3-point baskets against their top two region rivals, Wasatch and Judge Memorial.

"What it really boils down to is our inability to contest 3-point shooters," Fine said.

Park City fell behind 8-2 early as Pelo and Watts hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start off the rivalry game. The Miners fought back with a 13-4 run of their own before Wasatch turned up the pressure with its zone defense, which left Park City discombobulated.

"I did a bad job," Fine said, describing the zone defense the Wasps put on. "We worked hard on how to attack the zone last week in practice, but we could not get the ball inside enough. We could not force them to guard the interior. We didn’t attack the zone the right way, and that was my fault.

"We did not do a good job of keeping (their) people out of the paint. You’re not going to win many games when that happens. Ultimately, we just didn’t defend and rebound."

Buford led Park City with a team-high 16 points, while senior guard Jono Schettler scored 14. Jordan Ruda (seven points), Heath Vincent (six points) and Brae Dilley (two points) rounded out the scoring for Park City.

The last time Park City defeated Wasatch in boys’ basketball was Feb. 2, 2007.

"They have to have the mental edge right now," Fine said. "It’s interesting how that works. I don’t think it’s for a lack of belief in my kids. I believe everyone on my team believes we can win. There’s no question we have the talent to win. Wasatch just turned their belief into execution a lot better than we did."

Following their 51-31 statement win against Morgan, one of the better 3A teams on Dec. 29, the Miners (9-8) have gone 3-4 over the last seven games and are 3-3 in Region 10 play.

"When we we’re not playing well, we fight to the end," Fine said. "But you do see us pressing and the kids really want to make a play so badly."

Park City traveled to Union Tuesday after this issue went to press, and as of today, has three Region 10 games remaining to get back on track and gather momentum for the postseason. But first, Fine said, his team must figure out how to resolve its recent troubles.

"Our backs are against the wall," he said. "The season is not over and we need to keep plugging away. Hopefully, we can learn life lessons from these losses. We still have goals we can reach if we do it together as a team.

"Just being better is not enough. You have to play better. That’s the message that has to be preached and will be."