Grand junior Mercedes Zunich (center) defends a Green River player during Grand's season-opening 44-40 win over the Lady Pirates on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Moab. Also pictured are junior Josie Camps (left) and junior Veda Gritts (right). [Photo by Tim Chappell / Moab Sun News]

Grand juniors Hannah Owen and Veda Gritts did all the scoring in leading the Lady Red Devils to a 44-40 victory over the Green River Lady Pirates in the Lady Red Devils’ season opener on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Moab.

Owen had 24 points and Gritts had 20 points, feeding off each other and making timely shots to maintain a slim lead. The Lady Red Devils led 26-23 at halftime and stayed three to eight points ahead throughout the second half.

“Our offense this year is based on ‘attack and counter,’” Grand girls basketball coach Randy Martin said. “We attack until we can’t, and then we counter. It worked tonight.”

Martin said, however, that for Grand to sustain success, more players must get involved in scoring.

“For us to be successful going forward, we’ve got to get more players involved in the offense,” he said.

The Lady Red Devils have only 11 players on their entire roster, one of whom was out with an injury, giving Grand 10 players for Tuesday, many of whom had to play in both junior varsity and varsity contests. Grand also won the junior varsity game 26-25.

“Playing 32 minutes (the entire varsity contest) tires us out and puts a lot of pressure on us to stay out of foul trouble,” Gritts said.

There were very few substitutions in the varsity contest for Grand.

Martin said the Lady Red Devils, whose entire roster are juniors or lower, are accustomed to playing short-handed after having a similarly small roster in 2016-17.

“Our girls are somewhat used to it,” he said. “They know they’ve got to condition and work harder than their opponents.”

The Lady Red Devils, despite their offense struggles outside of Owen and Gritts, said they have good chemistry.

“The game was good,” junior Josie Camps said. “I think we played well as a team.”

The Lady Pirates rallied late in the game and had the momentum, aided by boisterous fan support as Pirate fans nearly matched Red Devil fans in numbers. Grand, however, was able to hang on for the win. Owen said that for Grand to put games away in the late-going, they’ve got to maintain focus.

“Try to deal with the pressure, focus on everything, stay in the present,” she said.

The Lady Red Devils are looking to improve upon a 7-12 campaign in ’16-’17. Only one of Grand’s wins came in region play, a 43-32 win over Manti in the season finale. Gritts, Owen and Camps were key contributors to that team as sophomores and figure to continue leading the team as juniors.

Grand is next scheduled to play at Gunnison Valley in a non-region contest on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2:30 p.m.

Lady Red Devils defeat Lady Pirates 44-40 in the Devils Den