Despite being winless in Region 8, Miners still have time to turn the season around
It’s safe to say that this season has been a battle for the 4-7 Park City High School boy’s basketball team. After entering Region 8 with such high hopes following a 4-2 nonconference record, the Miners have been hit with reality as they sit at 0-5 in conference play.
According to coach Thomas Purcell though, that record in region play is a combination of the Miners’ self-inflicted wounds and the fact that they play in what is undoubtedly the best region in Class 5A.
“We have mental lapses in games that have cost us dearly, even wins, but right now we are in a very unforgiving league where you have to play perfect to win,” Purcell said. “Our league is crazy good so any time we make a mistake, we have to have the mental strength to overcome. … And I think we are still learning to how to do that. With time though, I believe we will figure it out, we are too good not to.”
Park City lost to Provo 53-27 last Friday. It was the Miners’ worst offensive production of the season as they were held to six points or fewer in three of the four quarters.
“We just hurt ourselves right away with five turnovers in the first quarter, and if you do that to someone in our league, you dig yourself a hole that’s nearly impossible to dig yourself out of,” Purcell said. “The same thing happened in the third quarter against Wasatch, where we just turn the ball over and hurt ourselves. And then we lose confidence and start pressing more, and we haven’t been able to recover from things like that yet.”
Proving Purcell’s point with how difficult Park City’s region is, Provo entered the game against the Miners at 0-4 in league play — yet somehow was No. 7 in the 5A RPI. Payson, who Park City played on Tuesday night, was 1-4 entering that matchup but ranked No. 15 in the RPI rankings.
Every team in Region 8, apart from the Miners, are ranked in the top 16 of the 5A RPI rankings, while Park City checks in at No. 24.
“If you come out and play four minutes of basketball where you aren’t mentally or physically engaged, you won’t be in the game anymore because whoever you’re playing will take advantage of that,” Purcell said. “The game will be over real quick, and that’s happened to us. But I think sharpening our mental focus is by far our biggest hurdle right now.”
Even with the knowledge of how difficult the remaining of the regular season will be considering the Miners only have region games left, Purcell isn’t using that as an excuse to just pack it in. Rather, he’s open to any and all ideas to help the boys stay mentally tough through these difficult times.
According to him, part of Park City’s issues mentally is that it hasn’t been a winning program in a long time — with just two winning seasons this past decade — so believing that they belong is part of the first year head coach’s way of changing the culture.
“It’s a long season and there are a lot of ebbs and flows to it so right now we got to stay positive,” Purcell said. “We have to find a way to start winning some of these games where we are close, and that comes with toughening up our mentality. … Having someone step up and get the job done and lead the rest of the team to the win.”
Purcell believes that all it will take is one victory to change things around for the Miners. He believes that Park City has the skill level to win these games, especially after taking Maple Mountain (No. 1 in RPI) to the final minute before losing 58-54 in the Region 8 opener on Jan. 3.
“That game came down to one possession where we missed a three-pointer and they hit a three to win it,” Purcell said. “If we can play with Maple Mountain, we can play with anyone. We played that entire game with a level of focus and effort that is required, so it’s about generating that sort of mentality every time out and not just once.”
Purcell knows that his team needs to stay focused the rest of the season, because once they get into the playoffs, they could be dangerous. After playing in the toughest region, he believes that this will help the Miners prepare for the postseason because any opponent they face won’t be nearly as good as the top of their region.
“I do think that if we stay positive and together, if we don’t come apart as a team, we will be good at the end of the year,” Purcell said. “I have all the faith in the world in this team. Our goal is to be a cohesive team at the end of the year and I still believe we can achieve that and then start over again in the playoffs where anything can happen.”
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.