The Grand County Lady Red Devils lost 38-34 in the 2A quarterfinals to Gunnison on Thursday, Feb. 27, and 70-37 to Emery in the consolation bracket on Friday, Feb. 28 to conclude their season.
Against the Bulldogs, each team played tenacious defense throughout, creating several turnovers. The Lady Red Devils turned the ball over 14 times in the first half.
“For us, there was a lot of pressure,” Grand girls basketball coach Tony Chacon said. “Most of our girls have never played in a game of this magnitude. When you get this deep into the season, these games are going to be defensive battles. I think the whole aura of the playoffs got into their heads a little bit.”
Despite the Bulldogs effectively containing senior Shailee Croasmun and sophomore Talaunee Croasmun, the Lady Devils’ leading scorers, Grand fought to lead the game late in the fourth quarter before Gunnison pulled it out in the end.
“Our outside shooting was cold and we just couldn’t finish,” Chacon said. “We just panicked a little bit, but we still had an opportunity to win the game at the end, which is all you can ask for as a coach. It just wasn’t our day.”
Gunnison held the Lady Devils to 12-of-51 shooting from the floor. The Croasmun sisters each scored 8 points to lead the Lady Devils; Chacon said Shailee Croasmun scored each of her 8 points from the free-throw line. Senior Alena Geiser and sophomore Symony Call each scored 6 points. Junior Brook Schultz collected 12 rebounds.
Immediately following Grand’s loss to Gunnison, region rival and state-title favorite Emery suffered a 44-30 upset loss to eventual state champion Enterprise. The Spartans entered their consolation game against the Lady Red Devils with “a chip on their shoulder,” Chacon said.
“I think Emery was a little overconfident being the favorite, and it cost them the game against Enterprise,” Chacon said. “After dropping that quarterfinal game, they just wanted to destroy whoever they played next.”
The Spartans succeeded in their mission of destruction, especially in the first half, pouncing on the Lady Red Devils for a 20-3 lead after one quarter, which they extended to 37-9 by halftime. The Lady Red Devils played much more competitively in the second half for a final score of 70-37. Chacon said one positive from the Emery game is that he was able to get playing time to many of his bench players.
The Lady Red Devils again struggled from the floor, hitting only 11-of-46 shots. Geiser scored 13 points, while Call added 9 and Shailee Croasmun added 8.
Two of Grand’s other region foes, North Sevier and South Sevier, played against each other in the semifinals with North Sevier coming out on top 48-34. Enterprise defeated North Sevier 43-28 in the championship game.
Chacon said the Lady Red Devils had “an amazing season.”
“These girls worked their tails off,” he said. “They did everything I asked of them. I couldn’t ask for anything more as a coach.”
Chacon said for Grand to reach the next level, they’ve got to improve their passing, particularly passing into the post, and have better position and stronger play in the post. He said the girls must be dedicated in the offseason.
“In the offseason is when improvement happens,” he said. “The girls have got to get to summer camps and come to the open gyms. When you’re not winning very many games, it’s hard to get people to work hard during the offseason. Hopefully after the success we had this season, the girls see their potential and will work hard to reach it.”
Grand loses nail-biter to Gunnison in quarterfinals; gets thumped by Emery in consolation game
“Our outside shooting was cold and we just couldn’t finish. We just panicked a little bit, but we still had an opportunity to win the game at the end, which is all you can ask for as a coach. It just wasn’t our day.”