A quick start and dominance on the glass allowed the Red Devil boys to bounce back from a 54-47 road loss to Region 15 foe Richfield on Friday, Jan. 4 with a 64-43 victory over Waterford in the Devils’ Den on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 5.
On Saturday, the Red Devils (6-6, 0-1 Region 15) changed their starting lineup and came out in the press, looking to get off to a fast start, which paid off. Grand County scored the game’s first seven points before the Ravens (2-7, 0-0 Region 14) got on the board, then followed the first Waterford score with an 18-0 run to hold a 25-2 lead before the end of the first quarter.
Grand County boys’ basketball coach Travis Clark said the Red Devils didn’t scout Waterford prior to the game and went in knowing nothing about them.
“I told the kids, ‘It doesn’t matter what they do as long as we do what we do,” he said. “As long as we play our game and don’t worry about them, we’ll be a good team.”
Waterford closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to pull within 25-9 and played an evenly-matched second quarter, but couldn’t dig themselves out of the early hole. The Ravens ended the second quarter on an 8-1 run to go into intermission at 33-18 and made a couple shots early in the third quarter to get within 13 points, Red Devil teammates Adam Jenkinson and Kaden Risenhoover hit back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the Grand County lead to 41-23 and end any hope of a Waterford comeback.
“It definitely felt nice,” Walker said of playing most of the game with a commanding lead. “But in future games, we can’t get too comfortable with our lead and let it slide.”
The Red Devils enjoyed a substantial advantage on the boards, especially on the offensive end, where they routinely got extra chances to score each time down the floor, which senior Brett Walker said was the difference in the game.
“If we didn’t have that effort on the boards, the game would have been a lot closer,” he said.
Walker and teammate Nat Smith each collected five offensive rebounds in the contest. Walker finished with 10 points and nine rebounds while Smith finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
“I tell our big men if they’ll each get one offensive rebound and put-back per quarter, that’s 8 points right there,” Clark said.
Every Red Devil in uniform got into Saturday’s game; eight different players scored.
“I thought we had a really good team effort,” Clark said. “I always thought we were fairly deep, we just had trouble finding the lineup that played the best with each other. Everyone that came off the bench played well tonight. I had something to good to say about each player’s performance.”
Dale Thomas led the Red Devils in scoring against the Ravens with 14 points. Risenhoover added nine points and Jenkinson and Wesley Rodda each scored 8. Trevor Bertuzzi scored five points and Koi Cook added three points to round out the Red Devils’ scoring.
Friday’s region-opener in Richfield was much closer throughout as the Wildcats only owned a 2-point lead at half time before gaining separation in the third quarter and holding on for the win.
The Wildcats outscored Grand County by 10 points from the free-throw line, connecting on 15-of-22 attempts, while the Red Devils only made 5-of-8.
Smith led the Red Devils with 11 points and six rebounds against Richfield while Thomas and Jenkinson each added nine points.
The Red Devils continue Region 15 play with road games against defending state champion South Sevier (11-3, 1-0), who hasn’t lost to a 2A opponent since the 2011-12 season opener, on Friday, Jan. 11, and Emery (6-5, 0-1) on Saturday, Jan. 12. They don’t return home until their rematch with Richfield on Jan. 25. Each game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.