Second-half surge leads PCHS to victory in season opener
Luna scores 14, four Miners score in double digits
November 25, 2016
It wasn't an ideal start to the season for the Park City High School (PCHS) boys' basketball team.
Hosting American Leadership Academy (ALA) in the season opener from The Shaft at PCHS, the Miners looked like a team shaking off some offseason rust. Lackluster help defense from the Miners early in the game led to offensive rebounds and second-chance points for the Eagles, who held a 24-23 advantage over the home team heading into halftime.
"I think it's a little bit of nerves," Park City Head Coach Mike Doleac said of the slow start. "Everyone's a little nervous to see what will go on, how a game situation feels. I think that was part of it."
Park City, however, looked like a completely different team coming out of the locker rooms for the third quarter, outscoring ALA in the second half 42-17 to pull away for the 65-41 opening-night victory. Doleac attributes the turnaround between halves to some old-fashioned, hard-nosed defense.
"Honestly, I just think they decided to start playing harder," Doleac said. "I think they have confidence that when they do get up and pressure, they'll have help behind them. Our guys are there to help, that's important."
Leading the way for the Miners was Zackary Luna, who provided a spark by scoring 11 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. Many of his points came via pure hustle, as the senior guard was getting after loose balls and following his shots every time down the floor.
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"Zack Luna was terrific as far as being aggressive and trying to make something happen and pursuing rebounds," Doleac said. "He brought a lot of energy."
Park City's Devin Valiquett finished just behind Luna with 12 points, seven of them coming in the first half to keep Park City afloat during a slow start. Spencer Zur (9) and Collin Zur (5) combined for 14 points, while Jack Lecher and McCoy Tibbitts each finished with 11.
Without one star player to lean on, the Miners are focusing on playing as a cohesive unit, which showed on Tuesday night in the second half. The players were sharing the ball and the scoring was spread evenly throughout the team. Luna may have finished with the highest amount of points, but Doleac said that could've been anyone on his roster.
"I just told the guys that I think we’re talented enough that if we share the ball and we make the right plays, any guy can be the guy," Doleac said. "[We play] with effort and with energy and with teamwork. We're trying to teach them how to play the game together versus playing one on one ball. It's just, if you're going to cut hard, you'll get open shots. If you're going to rebound hard, you'll get putbacks."
Starting the season with a win is what every team wants to do, but there's still things Park City needs to work on moving forward. With the long holiday weekend coming up, it was nice for Doleac and company to get the win, but the Head Coach knows this is just a stepping stone on a long, long journey.
"It's one game, right?" Doleac said. "We need to continue to get better and take it one game at a time. I want the boys to enjoy this, enjoy Thanksgiving, and then come back and continue to improve. It's always nice to win. It's about wins and losses and to get a left-handed notch is important, but we’ve got a lot of work to do."
The Miners will host Highland High School in the second game of the season on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at PCHS.
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