The Grand County boys and girls basketball teams each began Region 15 play this week. The Red Devil boys suffered losses to Emery, Manti and Gunnison, while the Lady Red Devils also lost to Emery and Manti, but defeated Gunnison and San Juan to draw even at 2-2 to begin their region slate.
The Lady Red Devils were up first against the Spartans at home on Tuesday, Jan. 12, falling prey to Emery’s 15 3-pointers. The Spartans were in the full-court press most of the game, forcing the Grand offense into turnovers en route to an 81-36 victory. Twelve different Spartan players scored at least 4 points, while senior Talaunee Croasmun scored 15 to pace the Lady Red Devils, followed by senior Symony Call with 8 points. Freshman Veda Gritts had 5 points, freshman Annabelle Garrett had 4 points and freshman Hannah Owen and sophomore Tyra Robertson each had 2 points.
The following night, the Grand boys tried their hand at toppling Emery, but found themselves on the wrong side of a similar outcome in Castle Dale, as the Spartans defended their home court 61-32 over the Red Devils, who only scored 5 points in both the third and fourth quarters. Sophomore Masen Ward led Grand with 8 points, while seniors Brendan Bennett and Brayden Ward each scored 6 points. Bennett also had 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
With both Grand basketball teams at 0-1 in Region 15 play after losses to Emery, Grand’s boys played host to the Manti Templars on Friday, Jan. 15, while the girls traveled to Manti the same night. Grand’s boys played their best game of the season, coach Scott Horton said, but couldn’t overcome the Templars down the stretch. Grand had cut the Manti lead to single digits heading into the fourth quarter, but the Templars pulled away late for an 87-70 victory.
Brayden Ward hit five 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, while Bennett added 15 points. Sophomore Brayden Schultz had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds; fellow sophomore Alec Williams pitched in with 9 points.
“We played our best game by far against Manti on Friday night,” Horton said. “If we play like that, we’ll win a few of these region games. I’m confident, and the boys are confident, too, that we can play with these guys.”
The Lady Red Devils came close to beating Manti in Manti on Friday night, carrying a 43-39 lead into the fourth quarter, but lost the late free-throw battle, a facet of the game in which they’ve struggled all season, and the Lady Templars went on to a 62-54 win. Call scored 16 points to pace the Lady Red Devils, followed by Croasmun with 11, Gritts with 10 and senior Madi Jones with 8.
Saturday afternoon, the Lady Red Devils continued their road trip, traveling to Gunnison, where they came out on top 44-38. The first half was especially low-scoring, as Grand led 12-7 at the break. Croasmun scored 10 points, followed by Gritts with 9 and junior Katie McKay with 8.
The boys also had themselves within striking distance at home after a half of play versus the Bulldogs, trailing 32-28 at intermission, but Gunnison went on a 3-point shooting tear and foul trouble plagued the Red Devils in the third quarter and the Bulldogs extended their advantage to 57-39 heading into the fourth quarter. Grand rallied in front of the home crown, cutting the deficit all the way back to single digits, but all but five Red Devil players fouled out of the contest and the Bulldogs won 72-63.
Horton said the Red Devils got aggressive trying to create turnovers in order to give the offense easy scoring opportunities.
“It’s hard,” he said. “All of our kids are really aggressive so they tend to get into foul trouble.”
Schultz scored 18 points and tallied six rebounds and three steals. Williams also had a strong performance with 15 points, four rebounds and three steals. Williams had briefly taken control of the game on both ends of the floor before fouling out, then Schultz picked up where he left off before fouling out as well.
“Both of those guys are really good on the dribble and they’re quick so they can get to the basket,” Horton said. “Those two, Brendan Bennett and Brayden Ward, are all great ball handlers and can get to the rim.”
Along with the foul trouble, Horton said another weakness of the team is its propensity to get obsessed with the 3-pointer.
“Our offense is based on attacking the basket and getting 3-point shots off of it,” he said. “Sometimes, everyone starts shooting 3’s and forgets to attack.”
Perhaps the biggest weakness, though, is that there is almost always a quarter or two of poor play by the Red Devils.
“We have to put four quarters together,” Horton said. “We can’t play one half and expect to win a basketball game – not in our region.”
The Lady Red Devils concluded their road trip with a 59-31 victory over San Juan in Blanding on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Croasmun and Call each scored 14 points.
The Lady Red Devils are scheduled to play host to North Sevier on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m.
The Red Devils were scheduled to play host to San Juan on Wednesday, Jan. 20. They’re next scheduled to play at North Sevier on Friday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m.
Boys coach: Grand must put together complete game in order to win
“We have to put four quarters together. We can’t play one half and expect to win a basketball game – not in our region.”
When: Thursday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East.