Streak broken: Miners take down Tooele
Younger players come through for PCHS in the clutch
January 17, 2017
When playing host to Union last week, the Park City High School boys' basketball team had an up-and-down performance.
The Miners were hot out of the gate, jumping out to a big first-quarter lead, but eventually cooled off in the second and third quarters before finishing strong in the final frame.
Despite making in interesting, though, the team couldn't pull out a win over the Cougars, falling in the region opener. In the midst of an 11-game losing streak, Head Coach Mike Doleac stressed the importance of his team getting a little bit better each day after the loss.
"Some days it might be two steps, but we can't have any steps backward," Doleac said following the loss to Union. "Even if it's a tiny step, we just have to move forward. That's what I want to stress with our guys and try to keep them as positive as possible."
Apparently, the players were listening.
When Tooele came to town on Friday night, it was nearly déjà vu for the Miners. They jumped out to a quick 15-6 lead after the first quarter, found themselves trailing after the second and third, but were right in the thick of things as the end of the fourth quarter neared.
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This time, though, Park City used some clutch free-throws from some of its youngest players and strong defense down the stretch in order to pull out the 49-47 win over the Buffaloes on Friday. With the win, the Miners snap the previously-mentioned losing streak, as well as gain their first region win of the season.
"It's just nice to get a win right now," Doleac said. "The guys played really hard, especially in that fourth quarter. More importantly, attitudes stayed really good and strong. We had some opportunities to fold and let adversity to get in the way. … We didn't do that. We battled. We stayed strong and we were able to pull out a win.
"I'm really proud of the boys for how hard they played and how mentally tough they were, especially in the fourth quarter."
Leading the way for the Miners was Nate Lowe with 13 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter. Jack Lecher was instrumental in helping the team jump out to a first-quarter lead by scoring 10 of his 12 points in that frame, while Mark McCurdy chipped in 10 points of his own.
Heading into this season, Lowe and McCurdy, both freshmen, weren't even on the varsity team. Since Doleac brought them up, along with a few other freshmen and sophomores, around the holiday break, they've been a positive impact on what was previously an upperclassmen-laden squad.
In fact, in the fourth quarter of Friday's game, only freshmen — Lowe, McCurdy and a big three-pointer from George Partridge — scored.
"That's crazy," Doleac reflected after realizing only freshman scored in the final frame. "I was really proud of how they played and maintained their composure."
This last week, according to Doleac, was a tough one for the team. Losing 11 games straight isn't easy on anyone, but after some tough conversations among the team, things are finally on the rise for the Miners.
Even though the monkey is off their back after earning a win for the first time since early December, Doleac continues to preach improvement, which started with the day after garnering a win on Friday.
"[On Saturday] when we practice, it's just going to the weight room and lifting right and doing it right every single time," Doleac said. "When we go shoot, we're going to try and shoot every shot in a way that we get better. Good footwork on every shot. Good footwork on every pass.
"If we approach practice like that, then we have a chance to continue to improve. These kids, they really want to win. It's just a matter of putting them into situations for them to be able to do that and be successful."
The Miners will have a chance to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season when they welcome Stansbury to The Shaft on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.