PCHS boys’ basketball drops season opener to Skyline | ParkRecord.com

PCHS boys’ basketball drops season opener to Skyline

Early in Tuesday night’s season opener, the Park City High School boys’ basketball team looked determined to prove that this year won’t be a rebuilding year.

After losing each of the six players who played the most minutes from last year’s team to graduation, the Miners had some trouble scoring in the first quarter. Instead, they relied on swarming defense to keep 4A Skyline close, entering the second quarter down 11-8.

In the second quarter, the Miners took a 25-24 lead just before halftime, but Skyline hit a shot at the buzzer to go into the intermission ahead 26-25. Trailing 41-40 heading into the fourth quarter, the Miners finally hit a wall, losing 61-54.

Despite the loss, Park City Coach Caleb Fine was pleased with the Miners’ intensity on Tuesday night.

"That’s what this team is going to have to do," he said. "They played hard and stayed together. We went through a lull in the fourth quarter and we’ve got a lot of things to improve upon, but we’re happy with the effort."

Seniors Nesta Heaps and Drew Fleming each had 17 points in the loss. Fine said that was no surprise for Park City.

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"We expect a lot of them," he said. "They’re our two captains this year. I think that showed tonight. Drew’s going to be able to hit some shots — he’s a really deadly shooter. With Nesta’s energy, he’s tough to take off the floor. He’s going to play hard for us for every minute he’s got. He’s not going to be the most talented kid most nights, but he’s going to outwork a lot of people and he’s going to look a lot better at the end of the night than most kids."

Joshua Jennings scored six points, Jack Lecher had five, Chase Preston had four, Will Robinson and Devin Valiquett scored two points each and Chase Malone added one. The Miners made nine three-pointers in the game, something that Fine expects will be a key component of the Park City offense.

"We’re going to shoot some threes this year," he said. "We’ve got guys who can make threes and, if we can get some inside-out threes, we’ll take them. I’d like to score some more in the paint, but I thought we scored enough to win tonight. Hitting nine threes doesn’t surprise me. I think that will happen again, but we’ve got to find some ways to get some easy twos."

A lack of size plagued the Miners in the fourth quarter, when they were handily outrebounded by Skyline. Park City has no one over 6-foot-3 on its roster, so Fine said the team is going to have to find other ways to grab some boards.

"On a lot of their rebounds, we were in a position to box them out," he said. "We’ve just got to get low, make contact and go get the basketball. It’s something these kids have to think about every day — they’re not taller and they can’t outjump these guys. We’ve got to do it more fundamentally and hopefully we can make that adjustment."

Though Fine wasn’t happy that the Miners committed 17 turnovers offensively, he was pleased that they were able to make up for a lot of those turnovers on the defensive end.

"One thing we’re doing this year is trying to get in the passing lanes more," he said. "We had nine deflections. I’m not sure how many turnovers that led to, but that’s going to help us. We’ve got to generate points a little differently. It’s going to be all about the team — getting deflections and easy buckets."

Moving forward, Fine and his coaching staff would like to see the Miners continue to work hard in practice and not get down over one loss.

"We told these guys the goal is not to go undefeated this year," he said. "The goal is to get better every day. If we play this hard and we learn from our mistakes, we’re going to get better every day. They worked hard for us and that was encouraging."

Park City (0-1) will return to the court on Dec. 1 against Highland. Fine said that will be a great game for the Miners to work on rebounding form and other aspects of the defense.

"We’re going to have to work on our defensive rotations and our ball-screen coverage," he said. "We’re going to see that against Highland. Highland’s got a really, really big kid and we’re going to have to find a way to box him out."

The Miners return home on Dec. 2 for a game against North Sanpete. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.