Miners head into season looking to reverse their fortunes
Park City opens the year at home against West on Tuesday
Last season didn’t go as planned for Park City’s boys basketball team.
The Miners started off 2-0 and then lost 11 straight games, a stretch that included a COVID-19 outbreak on the team that kept the Miners from gaining any momentum. Park City scored a couple of region wins in the second half of the season, only to lose on the road to Alta in the first round of the playoffs and finish the season 4-18.
A year later, with some returning talent, some new faces and some added size, Park City is hoping for a much better season. The Miners open the year with a home game against West on Tuesday night.
“A lot of guys returning, we’re big this year – we’ve not been big in the past, size has been a real issue for us,” Park City coach Thomas Purcell said. “Some guys grew, we’ve got some younger guys coming up. We hit the weight room, and we’ve got a lot of size this year.”
Purcell emphasized this year’s team’s size, which was a major issue last year. Outside of then-senior Luke Varechok, who measured 6-foot-7, Park City was outsized and outmatched last year. But after some time in the gym and a year’s worth of growth spurts, Purcell thinks that won’t be a problem this year.
“I think we can hurt teams bad on the boards,” Purcell said. “If we can do that, all sorts of things are possible, but we’re used to being the ones that are getting beat up on the boards. It’ll be nice to be on the other side of that.”
Seniors Khai Lockwood and Matthew Hale return from last year’s team and serve as this year’s senior captains, and junior Duke Gordon flashed plenty of potential last year as a sophomore. Park City might not have a go-to guy, but Purcell thinks he has plenty of guys who can lead the team on any given night.
“I think some nights Beckett Wolf can definitely play that role, I think the bigs – I think Cedric (Donovan), I think Cam (Wilson), definitely Duke Gordon,” Purcell said. “(Gordon) had some huge nights as a sophomore. He’s coming back as a junior, and he’s gotten more skilled and more athletic. There’s a bunch of different guys that it could be out of that seven or eight. But they’re really pretty equally talented.”
Lockwood feels that the team is much further along as a group compared to his previous three years. Plus, he feels the Miners are a lot closer this year as well.
“This year, we’ve had everyone bought in,” he said. “Everyone’s a lot closer, a lot more together. Going into previous years, we kind of had to figure out how to play with each other. But now, we’ve played with each other the whole summer and the whole offseason, so we’re kind of already at that point where we’re ready to get started with games.”
Hale recalled how the team played a tournament together at Lake Tahoe over the summer and used it as a team-bonding experience.
“We got to spend four days with each other staying in the same house, so just that bonding that we had there and that definitely has shown up on the court,” Hale said. “We played pretty well there, and I think that having that team chemistry is really important, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Lockwood also wants to raise the standard for Park City’s boys basketball program. The Miners have struggled on the court in previous years, but he doesn’t want that to be an excuse.
“Like I told everyone on the team, no one should be OK with losing, no one should be OK with being a bad team,” Lockwood said. “I expect us to be a good team, and I don’t expect anything less.
“I think it’s a standard we haven’t had previously, and I think it’s something that we can set this year.”
Stifel U.S. Freeski Team athlete and Olympic champion Alex Hall secured the win in big air at Beijing, the same location where he clinched his Olympic victory in slopestyle at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
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