Wildcats squeak past Miners in Classic thriller
Hard-fought battle ends with late-game theatrics
Between junior varsity and varsity games, there were eight boys’ basketball games hosted at Park City High School for the third-annual Park City Classic over the weekend. But there were none more exciting than when host PCHS and county rival South Summit High School took to the court on Friday night.
In a hard-fought, back-and-forth contest that created opportunities for both teams to put the game away, the Wildcats made just enough plays to scrape by the Miners 52-50. This game could have gone either way, and it was clear both teams really wanted to get the win.
“We played better [on Friday] than we have [recently],” South Summit’s Head Coach Dusty Hatch said. “I think Park City played better, too. They always do. It’s a good rivalry game for both of us. We usually give our best in these games.”
The Wildcats were led by big man Ryan Griffin, who was a pleasant surprise for Hatch coming off the bench. The junior played sparingly thus far in the season, only to come through in this one with 14 points, including a banked three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
With bigger players like the Zur twins on Park City, Hatch knew his team would need to be physical to compete in this one, which made Griffin’s performance a welcome surprise.
The Wildcats also received 10 points from Brandon Dansie, who helped seal the game with a late free throw and a steal in the closing minute.
“[The Miners are] very physical in the paint,” Hatch said. “We knew that coming in. … Griffin came in and did a great job. He’s earned that in practice. We gave him a shot first and he came through for us. That was a great game for him.
“[Dansie] is just solid … I attribute it to his practice habits; focused, listens and then it translated to the game for him. He was outstanding for us tonight.”
Leading the way for the Miners was Jack Lecher with a game-high 20 points, including three three-pointers.
“Jack’s a leader of our team,” PCHS Head Coach Mike Doleac said. “We seem to be going how he goes. On Friday night, I think he came out with a lot of defensive intensity and really distributed the ball well. He helped with establishing our tempo and how hard we’re going to play.”
Sam Addicott was the next-best scorer for Park City with 13 points and three three-pointers of his own, all coming in the fourth quarter. His last one pulled the Miners to within two points with under a minute to go in the game.
Ultimately, though, 26 turnovers by Park City throughout the game spelled its doom.
“When you give the ball away that many times, it’s just hard to win,” Doleac said.
Everyone came out for this one, including a raucous student section that hounded the Wildcats at every opportunity it had. It was nearly filled to capacity with students dressed in shirts and ties, while some leaders of the section even pretended to host an ESPN segment in-between halves.
The Miners jumped out to the quick lead with a balanced attack, as five different players scored to earn the 10-8 lead. But as clock ran down on the first quarter, the aforementioned banked three from Griffin gave South Summit the 11-10 lead after the first frame.
The second quarter turned into the Lecher show, as the senior for Park City scored eight of the team’s 12 second-quarter points. This allowed the Miners to head into the locker rooms with the slim 22-21 lead over South Summit.
The Wildcats pulled away a bit in the third by outscoring the host team by six in the frame, giving them a five-point advantage heading into the game’s final quarter. What followed was close to madness.
Down by five in the final minute of the game, Park City started hoisting up shots from three-point range to close the gap. Many of the shots bounced off of the iron unsuccessful, but the Miners only needed one.
They got it from Addicott. From behind the arc, he found the bottom of the net to pull Park City to within two points, and the student section and fans exploded. However, the comeback fell short, as a steal from Dansie assured the South Summit victory.
Despite pulling out the win, Hatch couldn’t help but think of the things that need correcting in the closing minutes.
“We have to be smarter at the end of the game,” Hatch said. “We did some stuff, had some turnovers and [poor] free-throw shooting that we have to get better at. We were 9-for-22 [from the line] so we have to get better there.”
The Wildcats came back the next day to finish off the Park City Classic with a 72-50 win over Rockwell High School. Eleven different South Summit players scored in the winning effort.
Next up for South Summit is a matchup with Uintah High School at home on Friday. With no games in between, Hatch is excited to get back to the practice court.
“This will be the first time since we started the season that we have four good days of practice to get things straightened out,” Hatch said. “We’re looking forward to that. Well, I am. I don’t know if the kids are.”
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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.