The Grand County High School boys basketball team advanced to the 2A quarterfinals, defeating Rowland Hall 63-44 in a first-round play-in game on Saturday, Feb. 18, in Orem.
After trailing 14-13 after one quarter, the Red Devils had a dominant second quarter defensively, holding the Winged Lions to only 2 points. Grand led the Region 14 No. 3 seed 29-16 at halftime.
Rowland Hall cut into Grand’s lead in the third quarter, but Grand played strong on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Grand boys basketball coach Scott Horton said defense was key for the Red Devils to get back on track in the second quarter.
“We went back to the game plan,” he said. “We got off to a slow start, but we knew we were more physical than they were. We started playing defense in the second quarter and took control of the game.”
Sophomore Cameron Hoppensteadt scored 15 points off the bench, while also pulling down 13 rebounds to lead the Red Devils. Hoppensteadt made 5 of 6 free throw attempts. As a team, the Red Devils went 16-of-19 from the line.
“He didn’t play a whole lot of minutes, but he made them worth it while he was in there,” Horton said of Hoppensteadt. “He had a great game.”
Junior Alec Williams scored 13 points for Grand, while senior Kenyon Birdwell had a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
The win marked Grand’s first playoff victory since at least 2001. Online archives only go back as far as 2002 and the Red Devils have no playoff victories in that time. Grand made the playoffs five of six years from 2002 to 2007, but lost in the play-in game each time. This season marks only the third time since 2007 the Red Devils have qualified for postseason play.
“It’s a great thing for our school. It’s a great thing for our program,” Horton said. “I don’t think the team has made it to the tournament (won the play-in game) since I was in high school. It’s been a lot of years.”
The Red Devils (16-6, 7-3 Region 15) will play defending state champion Summit Academy in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m. The Bears defeated Beaver 45-36 in their play-in game. Summit Academy has a 16-7 overall record, including an 8-2 mark in Region 16, for which it earned the No. 2 seed. Dylan Marston leads them in scoring, averaging 11.8 points per game. The Bears have two players in the top six in 2A in rebounding.
“We’ve got to rebound and play defense. If we do that, we’ll beat ’em,” Horton said. “They’re a big team, which will create some match-up problems for us, but if we do our jobs with rebounding and defense, we’ll be OK.”
Each team remaining in the tournament is guaranteed to play at least two more games. The winner of Thursday morning’s game will play the winner between South Sevier and Layton Christian Academy the following day, while the losers will play each other in the consolation bracket. The tournament culminates with the fifth-place, third-place and championship games on Saturday, Feb. 25, with the title game scheduled for 7 p.m., at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
Red Devils advance to quarterfinals for first time in decades