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PCHS girls give one up to Utes

by Adia Waldburger

Park City girls basketball coach Steve Crandall always dreads the long and tiring two and half hour bus ride to Vernal. But this Tuesday, it was worse than usual.

With their proverbial, "backs against the wall," the Miners had one last chance against the Uintah Utes to win and earn a spot in the 3A state playoffs. Unfortunately, the bus ride back seemed even longer as the Miners suffered a 50-41 loss to the Utes.

"The game was disappointing to us, especially the seniors," said center Nicole Bishop. "That was our last chance to go to state."

The game started out even enough. At halftime, the Miners trailed by one basket, 22-24, but Bishop still felt like the Miners could have set a stronger precedent early on.

"It wasn’t an intense game," Bishop said. "We were slow starting. We let a lot of easy shots get by us."

After the half, the Miners kept close to the Utes, but their two post players, Amy Parkinson and Nicole Brady, kept Park City from ever taking the lead.

"They were right there, even after halftime, a couple of times, but they couldn’t take advantage of it," Crandall said. "The two post players played really well."

Actually, the Miners led in the number of total baskets, but the difference between the two teams lay in the number of free throws. The Miners shot seven, which paled in comparison to the Utes’ 25.

"They played well enough and hard enough, it just wasn’t enough," lamented Crandall.

Park City’s own standout post players, Lauren Deane and Bishop, had their hands full defending girls that actually matched them in size, but still managed to put points on the board. Bishop led the team with 16 points and Deane finished with 13 of her own.

"Its different. We’re used to short people," Bishop said. "It was a different challenge for us, because we weren’t used to a team with post players. We’re used to guards."

Guard Angela Edwards received her time in the sun, playing the most she had in a varsity game all year. In order to keep up with the Utes’ quick guards, Crandall thought that the scrappy, quick Edwards could keep them under control.

"She kept up with them and played well," Crandall said.

Although the loss meant the season would end soon, Crandall was pleased with his team.

"I didn’t really feel bad for the girls," Crandall said. "I felt they did what they could to give themselves a chance."

The Miners finished up their season on Thursday night with a 61-44 loss against their biggest rival, Judge Memorial. Although the Miners were mathematically out of the playoffs, pride and the finality of playing their last game kept them close throughout much of the game. Crandall said that the Bulldogs, depth helped them in the second half as the Park City starters grew tired.

"There’s just so many of them," Crandall said. "We got a little tired."

Judge was also able to distribute the ball well and kept turnovers to a minimum.

"Judge played well tonight," Crandall said. "They took care of the ball."

The game was the last one for the Park City seniors. Crandall calls them his, "best group ever," and is sad to see the season end.

"They’re just such great girls and have such perspective on life," Crandall said. "I’m gonna miss that group."

Boys stay close, but still fall to Uintah

If the Park City boys basketball was looking for a challenge, they sealed their fate on Tuesday night with a loss to the Uintah Utes on the road, 68-61. The loss means they may have to earn their way to the 3A state playoffs by beating the top-raked Judge Bulldogs in the last regular season game scheduled for Friday.

"The events of Tuesday night make the previous nights that much harder to swallow," said Park City had coach Matt Nagel, referring to a double-overtime loss to Morgan and other wins and losses around the league that may have changed the impending playoff picture.

Much like the girls’ game, the Miners started out slowly, but soon caught up with the Utes, trailing by only four points, 29-25, heading into half.

"We executed well, rebounding and defending, but we shot poorly," Nagel said.

Park City shooters Scott Case and Lucas Tucker each contributed 15 and 11 points, respectively, which wasn’t enough to keep up with the hot-handed Utes.

In fact, the Miners were a factor in the game up until the fourth quarter, when the Utes’ outside game unexpectedly took off. The Miners started hitting more shots as well, but they were no match for the Utes’ four straight three-pointers.

Then as the Miners moved to the outside to defend the Uintah guards, the Utes started scoring from the inside. From the outset, the miners were focused on defending the post position, but when the Utes went outside, they were forced to scramble.

"I told [assistant coach Ed] Potts, ‘It’s pick your poison,’" Nagel said.

Once again, guard Ryan Daniels was a big factor for the Miners, contributing 10 points and containing the Uintah guards as much as he could.

"Daniels played an excellent game," Nagel said.

Nagel left for a debate invitational at Stanford University on Thursday, but he left instructions and a scheme of sorts with the Park City assistant coaches in his absence.

Nagel said that the Miners spent the weekend playing hard and keeping their excitement level high for the Judge game. Nagel lamented the opportunity to play at the storied Judge Memorial basketball gymnasium, but was confident in his team’s ability.

"I’m really sad I couldn’t be at the Judge game," Nagel said. "It’s like playing Duke at Duke. It’s like Boston Gardens. It’s a hallowed ground for basketball."

Regardless of Friday’s result, the Miners will have to wait and see how the rest of Region 10 performs. Play-in games may be scheduled next week if the bottom half of the league is tied for fourth place.

"A lot of things are out of our control," Nagel said. "But we played hard at Uintah. We rebounded the heck out of that game and defended well."


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