PCHS boys’ basketball falls after fourth quarter collapse
Through three quarters of play on Wednesday night the Park City High School boys’ basketball team clung to a narrow 41-39 lead against visiting North Sanpete.
Thanks to some clutch three-point shooting, the Miners had managed to stay just ahead of their opponents, doing just enough offensively to maintain a lead.
But in the fourth quarter, North Sanpete upped its defensive pressure and the Miners went cold, allowing the Hawks to claw their way back for a 56-49 victory.
Park City Coach Caleb Fine said his team simply wasn’t ready to handle the Hawks’ defensive scheme change.
"We executed so much better against the man-to-man defense in the first half and then we saw some trapping stuff that we haven’t gotten many reps against," he said. "They need to learn. If we continue to learn, this will actually be a good game for us. It stinks because it’s a game we could have won. We’ve lost two games now that we could have won. We just can’t finish in the fourth. But we’ve got to go through these things so this team can continue to learn and grow."
Fine wasn’t happy with Park City’s stagnant offensive execution, but said he couldn’t fault the team’s energy at any point.
"Of course it was frustrating to lose and of course I believe we had some really poor execution down the stretch, but this team is learning," he said. "That’s the perspective we’ve got to remember. The truth is they brought the effort."
The biggest problem for the offense in the fourth quarter was players getting away from the unselfish style of basketball they were playing early in the game, Fine said.
"The press hurt us and they pushed us on the perimeter," he said. "Then we got into what we call ‘hero ball’ and away from playing team basketball. In the first half, I thought we played team basketball, which allowed us to get set on defense and get some stops. In the second half, as guys got pushed out, it was a bit more ‘I’ve got to do this by myself’ and we got away from fundamental things."
One bright spot for Park City was the strong play of junior point guard Jack Lecher, who led the Miners with 18 points on Wednesday night.
"I thought today was Jack’s best game because the ball wasn’t stuck [in his hands]," Fine said. "I believe he can continue to play like that — he’s that caliber of point guard. He’ll be better and have more of those games if he gets the ball out of his hands early and lets it come back to him."
Seniors Nesta Heaps and Josh Jennings each had 10 points in the loss. Chase Malone had four points, Jake Overson had three and Drew Fleming and Will Robinson each added two.
Fine said the Miners need to quickly move on from Wednesday’s loss.
"The progression, it’s a journey over the course of a season," he said. "We’re not going to overanalyze this game too much. We’ve just got to get better and find a way to compete at the end of the season."
Park City (0-3) hosted 2A Rockwell (0-2) on Friday night, after this issue went to press. Fine said it would be a big confidence boost for the Miners to win that game.
"I absolutely want to get a win and this team has played hard enough to get a win," he said. "We’re going to play and put in the best game plan we can with what we’ve got. We’re not going to do anything crazy — we’re going to try to be us. This group has not been fortunate in the win column. They’ve had some tough losses, like they’ve already had this year, and we’ve got to get one on the right side of the column."
Park City’s next home games are Dec. 11 and 12 in the Park City Classic. On Dec. 11, the Miners square off against South Summit at 7 p.m. On Dec. 12, Park City plays North Summit, also at 7 p.m.
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It’s been a rough season for Park City, but a taste of the postseason could pay huge dividends in the future.