Park City celebrated senior night on Tuesday, honoring the six players who are leaving a different legacy as Miners
Every senior class wants to leave a legacy — preferably one based on victories and championships. Unless something drastic happens over the final three weeks of the season, that won’t be the legacy of the 2020 Miners senior class on the basketball court.
And that’s just fine with boys head coach Thomas Purcell.
To him, there are more important things than winning when trying to turnaround a program — especially one with a losing mindset. So to Purcell, what this senior class leaves behind extends far beyond the wins and losses on the court — at least for this season.
“I think as we go forward in the upcoming years, this program is going to be more and more successful. … And that’s because of this senior class,” Purcell said. “I think if you look at the numbers behind this class, the talent behind them and the work ethic, I think these seniors have played a huge role in setting a different standard for Park City basketball. I also think the seniors will get to enjoy some of the fruits of their labor at the end of the year as well.”
While the Miners have struggled on the court, to the tune of a 4-11 overall record, including 0-9 following an 81-59 loss to Springville last Friday, Purcell has yet to lose faith in his squad. He truly believes that playing in the toughest region in Class 5A will pay dividends when Park City opens up the state playoffs.
“We play in what is the toughest region in 5A, with the seven other teams in our region all ranked within the top-20,” Purcell. “When we get to the playoffs, I think we will be one of the most battle-tested teams in the entire state. At some point things will turn around for us, and I think it’s coming a lot sooner than some may think.”
When Purcell was first offered the head coaching position for the Park City High School boys basketball team in November of last year, he thought about what sort of team he would be inheriting from previous head coach Mike Doleac.
Although Purcell has been on Doleac’s staff the previous three years, serving as the JV coach and varsity assistant, he was curious how the boys would take to him as a leader and a head coach, a much different role than just being an assistant.
He knew he had would have a veteran squad, led by five seniors who’ve all played basketball in the program previously and were all expected to return this year — so he took the job knowing what kind of kids he would be coaching.
“For some of the seniors, I already knew the kids really well because I had some of them on the JV level and then obviously at the varsity level a bit,” Purcell said. “I’ve coached all around the state of Utah over the past decade and I truly believe that Park City has the best kids I’ve been around. … And this senior class is a big part of what I think of when I make that comment.”
Fast forward to the present when the Miners celebrated senior night on Tuesday, as Purcell honored those very kids who he agreed to coach; Mark McCurdy, Alex Fugate, Alex Obradovich, Ben Hase, Vicente Sanchez and Eli Kimche.
McCurdy is the leader of the group, establishing that leadership early on in his high school career when he was a varsity starter as a sophomore. A gifted athlete, McCurdy has finished in the top-two of Miners scoring the past two seasons, and is in track do so again this year by averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.
“He’s just a natural born leader who’s been through the fire over these past few years, so he attracts good people around him,” Purcell said. “Even when his shots aren’t falling, he’s still probably our best player on the court. It’s hard to stay engaged when shots aren’t going down but he facilitated and played an outstanding all-around game. … That says a lot about the way he plays and what brings to this team.”
Obradovich, Sanchez and Hase have all grown with the program, playing since they were freshman and navigating there way through the ranks to all contribute as seniors.
Fugate and Kimche are the anomalies of the crew, joining later on in their high school careers. Fugate arrived as a sophomore, who immediately interested Purcell do to his raw athleticism as a 6-foot-6 post, and is not the team’s starting center. Kimche, a golfer attending Dartmouth next season, came out this year for the first time and had developed into a vital role player before a knee injury has ended his season.
Regardless of how the rest of this season turns out for the seniors, Purcell doesn’t want to see them go. Being a first year head coach, he’s grown close to his first group of seniors and as a result, wants their legacy to live far beyond this season.
“I hope they come back and stay involved with the program,” Purcell said. “They’re a part of the future success here because of the example and the precedent they’ve set.”
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.