Park City is looking for a complete game when they start the 5A state playoffs on Tuesday night
Bret Isaacson believes anything can happen.
That’s the exact message the Park City High School girls basketball coach is delivering to his team ahead of the upcoming Class 5A state basketball playoffs.
“Obviously, it’s been a rough go of things for us this year, hasn’t gone exactly as we planned but that’s alright because we still got one more chance to make a statement,” Isaacson said. “I told the girls that come Saturday, everyone starts fresh with a 0-0 record. … We have the opportunity to make a Cinderella run. Anything can happen and that’s why you have to play the game.”
The Miners are slated to begin the postseason on Tuesday against an opponent to be determined. As one of the lower seeds into the state playoffs, Park City’s Cinderella run will have to come on the road as the Miners will be expected to travel for nearly all of its games in the single-elimination tournament.
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Although Park City went winless in Region 8 play, finishing the regular season record with a 2-19 record, Isaacson is finding solace in knowing that his team plays in arguably the toughest region in 5A. The Miner have seen drastic improvement in the second half of region play, with opposing coaches commenting to Isaacson about how they’re a completely different squad now.
“Earlier in region play, we were getting blown out to where the games were over by halftime, if not the end of the first quarter,” Isaacson said. “But now we are in the games at the half, always having chances to win now. We are in games in the fourth quarter but we just haven’t been able to pull it out. … So at some point you think it’ll bounce our way.”
Against Payson on Tuesday night, Park City fell 45-33 in its closest game of region play. It was another loss for the Miners, but for Isaacson, it had a totally different feel to it.
His team found itself not only in the game during the fourth quarter, but after watching film on the way home he believes the Miners should’ve been leading and eventually won. He blames the loss on to many missed shots, and not even difficult ones at that.
“That’s been the message the last few weeks is to just make our easy shots. … Not the three-pointers or the contested jumpers, just the simple ones where no one I around us,” Isaacson said. “Make our layups, put-backs and free throws and we would’ve had an 11-point lead early in the third quarter. And then with what we missed late, if you add it all up we win in the end, and by double digits probably.”
While Isaacson admits he didn’t watch the entire game on his iPad afterwards — just three quarters of it – he saw Park City miss seven uncontested layups that would’ve results into 14 points. When combined with the 0-for-8 showing from the free throw line in the first quarter, there’s a possibly 22 points being missed out on and according to him, they aren’t good enough to let those easy points go missed.
After being the Miners’ leading scorer through the first couple weeks of the season, freshman Ava Kimche struggled through the middle part of the season. But she found her offensive groove against Payson, scoring 15 points and knocking down three three-pointers.
Frustrating for Isaacson was that junior Caroline Cook, Park City’s current leading scorer, really struggled from the field and couldn’t score a bucket. He’s just waiting for the game when more than one Miner gets going offensively, making the team more difficult to guard and hopefully leading to more wins.
“We just can’t seem to put together a full game where multiple girls are scoring for us,” Isaacson said. “Maybe it comes on Tuesday in the playoffs where it all comes together for us. We are playing good enough defense and forcing enough turnovers to win games. … We just cannot figure out how to put the ball in the hole and score.”
Isaacson isn’t sure how to fix the Miners’ shooting woes, saying they consistently knock down open shots in practice. They’ve started practicing shooting more, but all that practice has yet to translate to the games. For an unknown reason, Isaacson sys his girls start rushing everything in games, forgetting what they worked on and it goes bad.
But in the end he knows the talent and skillset is there to get a win. He’s seen it in practice and seen it in certain parts of games. He’s just waiting for his team to show up for the full 32 minutes — and with any luck it’ll happen on Tuesday.
“All we need is one game for everything to click for us and we can be dangerous,” Isaacson said. “Like I told the girls, ‘why not 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.