The Grand County Lady Red Devils fought neck-and-neck for most of the game, but a 14-2 run in the final minutes by the San Juan Lady Broncos closed out a 46-31 victory in Blanding.
The outcome gave the Broncos a leg up in the race to determine Region 15’s fourth and final representative in the 2A state girls basketball playoffs, which are scheduled to begin with the first round on Friday, Feb. 20 in Orem. The remaining rounds are set for Feb. 26-28 in Richfield.
The Broncos and Lady Red Devils played to a 20-20 tie at halftime, with each team opening strong before going cold in the second quarter. San Juan pulled away in the third quarter as Grand’s shooting remained cold, but the Lady Red Devils clawed back to within three points at 32-29 with about two minutes remaining in regulation.
Enter San Juan junior Tyla Morris.
Morris stole pass after pass from the Lady Red Devils in the final two minutes, leading to easy layups or free throw opportunities on the other end as San Juan closed the game on a 14-2 run for the win. Morris had 14 points for the game, 12 of which were scored in fourth quarter.
Grand’s leading scorer, junior Talaunee Croasmun, scored eight points, six of which came from the free throw line, as she struggled with her shot the entire night, converting only one field goal. Senior Brook Schultz had seven points, senior Sadie Hansen and junior Symony Call each had six points, and junior Madi Jones had four points.
The Lady Red Devils made 11-of-16 free-throw opportunities, while San Juan made 11-of-18, many of which came in the game-ending run.
San Juan’s victory over Grand, coupled with a victory over Wasatch Academy on Thursday, Feb. 5, gives the Broncos a one-game lead in the win column in the Region 15 standings going into the final week of the season. The Lady Red Devils lost a 32-30 heartbreaker to Wasatch Academy on Jan. 29.
“That game (versus San Juan) meant everything,” for Grand’s playoff hopes, coach Tony Chacon said. “The final score wasn’t indicative of how the game went. We fell apart in the last two minutes. We stopped their bigs all night, which is usually the key to beating them, but they had a guard go off and have a big game.”
As of Monday, Feb. 9, San Juan had two games remaining: versus North Sevier on Friday, Feb. 13 and versus South Sevier on Saturday, Feb. 14. The Lady Red Devils had games left at home versus Emery on Tuesday, Feb. 10 and road games at South Sevier on Friday, Feb. 13 and North Sevier on Saturday, Feb. 14. In order to claim the final playoff spot over the Broncos, Grand must win at least one of its final three games and finish with equal or more region wins than San Juan. If the Broncos and Lady Red Devils finish with identical region records, they will play a neutral site play-in game prior to the start of the playoffs.
Grand and San Juan finish tied for the last playoff spot in 2013-14, with Grand winning the play-in game 52-50. In that game, Croasmun and Call each scored 11 points, while Morris scored a game-high 23 in the loss.
“We need a victory in one of the next three games,” Chacon said. “It’s going to be tough, but it’s not impossible. Any team can be beaten on any given night.”
The Lady Red Devils got things going back in the right direction in a non-region tune-up on Saturday, Feb. 7 at home versus Altamont, winning 42-34.
The Lady Red Devils fell behind 14-9 in the first quarter before turning it around in the second quarter to take a 21-20 lead into intermission. Grand extended its lead to 28-24 in a low-scoring third quarter and held off the Longhorns for the win.
Croasmun’s cold shooting carried over in the early going before she found her rhythm to score 19 points. Schultz added nine points and Call added seven for the Lady Red Devils.
“We focused on subbing more, we played a little different offense, changed it up on defense, and it went pretty well,” Chacon said. “It was one of the best team games we’ve played in awhile.”
For Grand to claim a victory in the final week of the season to keep its playoff hopes alive, Chacon said the Lady Red Devils must continue to focus on strong defense.
“All of these teams are tough offensively, so if we cant stop them, it doesn’t matter if we score 100 points,” Chacon said. “We need to play mistake-free defense. Every time we give up a second-chance opportunity, it’s like a dagger in our backs.”
Tip-off Friday in Monroe is set for 7 p.m., while tip-off Saturday in Salina is set for 4:30 p.m.
Broncos claim advantage over Grand in race for final playoff spot
That game meant everything. The final score wasn’t indicative of how the game went. We fell apart in the last two minutes. We stopped their bigs all night, which is usually the key to beating them, but they had a guard go off and have a big game.
Region 15 Standings as of Monday, Feb. 9
1: South Sevier 6-2
1: Emery 6-2
3: North Sevier 5-2
4: San Juan 3-5
5: Grand 2-5
6: Wasatch Academy 1-7