The Red Devil boys basketball team suffered a pair of losses over the weekend at the Gunnison Invitational, losing a close game to host Gunnison 55-48 on Friday, Dec. 12, before a more lopsided 55-27 setback versus Juab on Saturday, Dec. 13.
Red Devil boys basketball coach Scott Horton said the Red Devils held the lead versus Gunnison on a few different occasions, but ultimately they were unable to hang on.
“It was a game we should have won,” he said. “We gave that game with silly turnovers. We’re just a young basketball team,” he said.
The Red Devils only have two seniors on the roster, one of whom is in his first year of playing high school basketball. Senior Jasen Christensen and junior Brayden Ward are the only returning players with significant varsity experience. The team’s other senior, Ronnie Dolphin, made the switch this year after wrestling his first three years of high school.
Ward had a solid all-around performance versus Gunnison, scoring nine points and adding eight rebounds and six steals. Sophomore Kenyon Birdwell led the Red Devils in scoring with 17 points, while also adding eight rebounds. Fellow sophomore Christian Wilson scored nine points and junior Brendan Bennett scored six points to go along with 10 rebounds. Christensen had five points and nine rebounds.
Perhaps the most telling stat in the loss was the free-throw disparity. Gunnison shot 24-of-39 from the stripe, while Grand hit 10-of-13.
Against Juab the following day, Horton said the Red Devils were significantly oversized and struggled shooting the ball, leading to a 55-27 defeat.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well from the field and we had a lot of turnovers,” he said.
Horton said the Red Devils especially struggled in the third quarter, scoring only four points. For the game, they shot only 7-of-45 from the field. Ward led the team with 12 points and was the only player with more than four points. Bennett led the Red Devils with seven rebounds.
“They play really physical and that gets our starting five in trouble,” he said. “We don’t have a very deep bench.”
Horton said he is happy with how the team is playing defensively, and he believes that the offense will improve.
“Once we get chemistry and understand what we’re trying to do on offense, we’ll be able to compete with any team in our region,” he said.
The Red Devils are scheduled to play road games versus Green River on Friday, Dec. 19, and Maesar Preparatory Academy on Saturday, Dec. 20, in their final action before the holiday moratorium.
“Green River will be a tough matchup,” Horton said. “They only lost one player from last year’s team, so we’ll have to play our best basketball to compete with them.”
After the break, the Red Devils play their first home game of the season versus Duchesne on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, at 5 p.m. Horton said the team is looking forward to playing on its home floor, but added that the team will be a more hardened, cohesive unit from having to open the season with five consecutive road games.
“They’re learning how to play in hostile environments,” he said. “That teaches you how to play basketball, and forces you to make a family out of your teammates.”
Young Red Devils struggle with inexperience
“Once we get chemistry and understand what we’re trying to do on offense, we’ll be able to compete with any team in our region.”
When: Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, 5 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East.