Miners focused on what lies ahead in Region 8 play
Park City boys basketball head coach Thomas Purcell knew that jumping up to Class 5A for this season was going to be difficult. It’s hard to imagine he figured it would be this difficult though.
“I knew that moving up a class was going to be hard, but I’ve been around basketball enough to know that anybody can beat anybody, and that’s true for our Region,” Purcell said. “Our league is very basketball centric, and we must be ready every night. Every team has the ability to run someone out of the gym, and if we don’t play our best each night, that will happen to us.”
That’s what happened last Friday night at Park City when Springville ran the Miners out of their own gym 82-46. Despite leading by two at the end of the first quarter, Park City was outscored 54-23 in the second half.
“We played a really good team, one of the best teams in the state, and sometimes this happens,” Purcell said. “We more than held our own in the first half, but then we let it get away from us in the second half. To their credit, they turned up the defensive pressure and we weren’t able to handle it very well and it cost us.”
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The Miners struggled to contain Springville’s 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior center Zach Visentin, who’s verbally committed to Idaho State. Visentin, who finished the game with 31 points and 13 rebounds, opened up the game for the rest of his teammates, who combined to knock down nine three-pointers.
“They’re a really difficult opponent to figure out how to beat because you’re literally picking your poison,” Purcell said of Springville. “The big guy (Visentin) speaks for himself, but they have guards who can all shoot and are very disciplined. They’re a good team, but I was disappointed in our showing. … We will be better when we face them again.”
With the loss, Park City was 0-3 in Region 8 play before its matchup with Wasatch Tuesday night. That winless record is, according to Purcell, a combination of playing the top three teams in the region, all of whom who have realistic opportunity to win the state championship.
The Miners faced Maple Mountain in the region opener on Jan. 3, falling 58-54, before succumbing to Salem Hills 62-52 four days later. Maple Mountain is currently ranked No. 1 in the Class 5A RPI, Springville checks in at No. 3 and Salem Hills is undefeated at 3-0 in the region.
Despite the lopsided loss to Springville, Purcell is choosing to look at that game as the outlier, as the anomaly for how the Miners have played for much of the season. Park City finds itself at 4-5 overall, with none of the losses coming from more than 12 points apart from the Springville game.
“Every game we’ve lost, we’ve been in it till the end, especially the other two region games besides Springville,” Purcell said. “We have to now focus on what lies ahead but also remember how we got to where we are. I still believe we are a good team, and I think the boys believe that as well.”
According to Purcell, where Park City fell apart against Springville was unlike how the Miners have played for much of the season. Typically, they are the team that stays disciplined, focused and forces other teams to play at their pace — very rarely do they get sped up to the point where they’re taken out of their gameplan.
The schedule now lightens up for the Miners following their game against Wasatch on Tuesday night. Their next three region games against Provo, Payson and Spanish Fork have a combined 1-8 region record.
It’s over that three-game span where Purcell believes his team can truly get back on track, get back to playing the disciplined style of basketball that has helped them get off to their best nonconference start in three years.
“We have ability to run other teams out of gym as well, especially when we stay true to who we are,” Purcell said. “But we are now just getting to that part of our schedule, which I think we are ready for. If we are as good as we think we are, these next two weeks are very big for us.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.