Strong defensive effort not enough for Miners in loss
Highland pulls away with 32 second-half points
At the end of the first quarter of the boys’ basketball game between Park City High School and Highland High School on Tuesday evening, the Miners looked up at the scoreboard to see they held their opponent to just six points. For any team, holding the other to just one bucket and four free throws made in one quarter is a positive for the defense and team as a whole.
The only problem for Park City was its side of the scoreboard illuminated just two points scored for the host, leaving the team asking itself how to score, rather than rejoicing in the fact that it played excellent defense in the first quarter.
“Defensively, it’s really a positive start to the year, and now, we just have to get the offensive half to hopefully catch up a little bit to where we are defensively,” PCHS Head Coach Mike Doleac said.
The Miners caught up a little bit in the remaining three quarters, scoring 10, 9 and 16 points, respectively, but it wasn’t enough to top the 4A school from Salt Lake City, falling to the Rams 48-37. Park City’s season record drops to 1-1 with the loss.
Leading the way for Park City was Spencer Zur with 11 points, with five of those coming from the charity stripe. Zack Luna, Jack Lecher and Devin Valiquette each finished with eight points, while Colin Zur rounded out the scoring with two.
A balanced scoring attack is coveted by most coaches, but 21 turnovers and the up-and-down offensive play leads Doleac to believe there’s a lot of room to grow.
“I’m happy with [the balanced scoring],” Doleac said. “I think we can be a lot more efficient offensively. That’s something that we definitely need to work on. We need to take care of the ball, value every possession.”
Highland was led by Elijah Shelton, who, after a rough start, scored 11 of his game-high 15 points in the second half. Trayton Keyes and Liki Makaui followed with 11 and 7 points, respectively.
With it being early in the season, Doleac knows it’ll take time in order for the offense to catch up with the defense. In terms of effort in stopping the other team, the head coach couldn’t be happier with where his team is.
“[The defense] was tremendous,” Doleac said. “I can’t ask them to do any more than they’re doing. As a coach, you’re thrilled to see the amount of effort they are putting out there defensively. I asked them to get up and pressure the ball, and they did that. I asked them to be there ready to help their teammates if somebody gets beat, and they’re there. They’re doing their job. They are all relying on each other and trusting each other to do their job, which is terrific.”
The Miners were right in the game, despite their two-point effort in the first frame. With each team scoring 10 points in the second quarter, Park City trailed by just four points, 16-12, heading into the locker room at halftime.
The third quarter was where the momentum swung in Highland’s favor. The Rams, with a mix of man-to-man, 2-3 zone and 1-3-1 zone defenses, continued to stifle the Miner offense, doubling their output 18-9 to increase the lead to double digits heading into the fourth and final quarter.
“That kept us off balance and we just didn’t respond well enough to what they were doing,” Doleac said.
Park City was able to outscore Highland in that fourth quarter, but it was too little too late to pull off the comeback.
It’d be easy for one to get discouraged over the disappointing start to the season on the offensive end, but as the saying goes, defense wins championships. Without it, you won’t get very far, so Doleac and company feel they are on the better end of the spectrum.
In terms of creating an even balance between the two ends of the court, that will come with time.
“Mostly, it’s just time together,” Doleac said. “Some of our guys missed last year and didn’t play, so they aren’t as comfortable with each other.”
The Miners’ next home contest will be on Tuesday when they host Rowland Hall from The Shaft. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.