Miners beat Wasatch
Thursday night saw the Park City High School basketball team line up against a familiar foe former Region 10 rival Wasatch (now a 4A school).
But the setting was unfamiliar, as the teams were in Provo for the Tip-Off Classic, which Park City coach Caleb Fine called "the hardest tournament Park City has ever played in."
However, the Miners came out with intensity unmatched by the Wasps, taking a 20-9 first-quarter lead and extending that to a 44-19 halftime lead.
Though the Wasps would make halftime adjustments and outscore Park City in both the third and fourth quarters, it wouldn’t be enough, and the Miners cruised to a 70-54 victory on Thursday night.
"That was an awesome way to start a very difficult tournament for us," Fine said. "We came out and the boys played well. They played with more energy than Wasatch. We were able to get a lot of action going to the basket and get to the free throw line."
Junior guard Bosten Van Der Veur notched an impressive 31 points on the night, including a 22-for-26 effort from the charity stripe, and senior guard Tom Wood had his best offensive performance of the season, scoring 12 points and knocking down three three-pointers.
"Tom played really good basketball and it all starts on the defensive end," Fine said. "He continued to take charges for us. When you take charges for me, you’re going to play. Offensively, he was selective and didn’t press. That really helps him."
Though the two teams are no longer in the same classification, with the Miners in 3A and the Wasps in 4A, Fine said there’s still nothing sweeter than picking up a win against Wasatch.
"The rivalry still exists," he said. "That’s the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach. I was really proud of the boys. It always feels good to give Wasatch one."
On Friday night, the Miner offense hit a roadblock. Though Van Der Veur once again led Park City with a respectable 24 points, the Miners couldn’t hold off a tough Provo team, falling 52-43.
Against the second-straight 4A opponent, the Miners couldn’t crack through a tough defense led by a coach who has nine state titles under his belt.
"[Provo] coach [Craig] Drury is a legend," Fine said. "They play a matchup zone and we weren’t able to attack the same way [as against Wasatch]. It was a dogfight the whole way and I give them a lot of credit for the way they defended us."
On Saturday, the Miners took on Desert Pines, the 12th-ranked team in all of Nevada. Though Park City played hard once again, the Miners again came up short, losing a heartbreaker 58-57.
Leading by 15 entering the fourth quarter, Park City was outscored 20-4 in the frame to give Desert Pines just enough points to squeak by for the victory.
After a tough loss to 5A Taylorsville on Friday, Dec. 12, in which the Miners had a big lead entering the fourth quarter, Fine said Park City still has a long way to go in learning how to close out games against tough opponents.
"It was a bummer to lose that one," he said. "On paper, we weren’t even supposed to be in that game. They have three guys with Division I offers, and we were absolutely the better team for 29 and a half minutes. It just spiraled quickly. But it will give us great teaching opportunities and we’ll continue to learn. That game will pay off when we get to region play."
Again, Van Der Veur led the Park City charge, notching 30 points in the loss. Even against a school with three players that have been offered scholarships by Division I schools, Fine said it was clear who the best basketball player was on Saturday night.
"Bosten was the best player on the floor by far," he said. "It’s a credit to his hard work in the offseason. He’s stronger than ever and he’s hard to guard, especially in space. He was doing a good job getting his teammates involved as well. I thought he was efficient this tournament, and that’s important."
The Miners now have a short Christmas break before traveling to Kamas on Dec. 28 to take on the South Summit Wildcats. Fine said he and the players would take some time away from the game to spend with family and friends and reflect on how much they’ve accomplished already this season.
"That’s what Christmas is all about," he said. "We’re so blessed to be able to play this game. We’re going to take a few days off and then go put a game plan together to give us a chance to beat South Summit."
Though the Wildcats are only a 2A school, Park City (3-6) won’t be overlooking its Summit County rival.
"South Summit is a very good basketball team this year," Fine said. "If Bosten can score, [South Summit forward] Beau Rydalch is one of the few players that can score as well as him. We’re going to have to play another good game to stay competitive at South Summit."
Saturday’s game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. in Kamas.
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