The Grand County boys basketball team led in the final minute of the game, but ultimately came up short at home to the Monticello Buckaroos on Saturday, Jan. 10, falling 47-42 to drop to 0-9 in the season after also losing 64-23 to Farmington, New Mexico, on Thursday, Jan. 8 and 51-41 to Green River on Tuesday, Jan. 6.
The Buckaroos stole an inbound pass from the Red Devils for the go-ahead score with 38 seconds remaining, and the Red Devils were held scoreless the remainder of the game.
“We had the lead with 38 seconds left, then we turned the ball over on an inbounds play and we couldn’t recover,” Grand boys basketball coach Scott Horton said. “We had two chances to the get the ball in, and they stole it and scored both times.”
The Red Devils battled back in the middle quarters after falling behind 15-6 in the first quarter on their home floor to the Buckaroos, who beat them 49-43 in Monticello in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2014. Grand took a 22-21 lead at halftime, which it extended to 33-29 by the end of the third quarter.
“We stuck to what we know,” Horton said. “We continued to play hard defense and started running the offense the way it should be run.”
Sophomore Christian Wilson led the Red Devils with 11 points and six rebounds.
“Christian wants to attack the rim, and we really need someone who can do that,” Horton said.
Sophomore Kenyon Birdwell also had a good all-around game, scoring nine points, collecting five rebounds and blocking two shots. Junior Brendan Bennett scored seven points and had six rebounds, two steals and a block; junior Brayden Ward had six points, six steals, five rebounds and two blocks; and senior Jasen Christensen had five points and six rebounds.
Wilson also led the Red Devils in scoring against Green River with 15 points, followed by Birdwell with nine and Christensen with eight points. Christensen also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Against Farmington, Christensen scored eight points to lead the Red Devils, who only shot five free throws over the course of the game.
“This team has a lot of heart,” Horton said. “They want to win and they leave it all on the floor every time out. They improve every time they step on the floor. They’ve just got to that first win to get them over the hump, then there will be a snow-ball effect and the wins will keep coming.”
The Red Devils continued to struggle shooting from the field, hitting only 27 percent of their shots versus Monticello, 28 percent against Farmington and 17 percent against Green River.
Horton attributed the Red Devils’ shooting struggles to trying too hard.
“We’ve got to make the easy shots,” Horton said. “These guys want to score so bad – they don’t want to let their teammates down, they don’t want to let me down, that they think about it too much. We practice the same way we play and the shots fall in practice, but not during the game.”
The Red Devils are set to begin Region 15 play at North Sevier on Friday, Jan. 16 before traveling to South Sevier the following day. They’re scheduled to play at home versus San Juan on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
“As far as region goes, everyone is tied for first right now,” Horton said. “I’m confident that we can win four of our eight region games and get a play-in game. I think the kids are confident that they can do it, too. We beat Monticello for all but 38 seconds every time down the floor; we almost beat Green River, who just went over and beat Fruita (Colorado), which is like a 4A or 5A team, so I know they can play.”
Tip-off at North Sevier is set for 7 p.m., tip-off for South Sevier is set for 4:30 p.m., and tip-off for San Juan is set for 7 p.m.
“This team has a lot of heart, they want to win and they leave it all on the floor every time out. They improve every time they step on the floor. They’ve just got to that first win to get them over the hump, then there will be a snow-ball effect and the wins will keep coming.”
What: Grand boys basketball versus San Juan
When: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East