The Grand County High School boys basketball team, having already punched its ticket for state tournament play, jockeyed for position, splitting a pair of road games in Region 15 competition.
Grand’s boys entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in 3A by the Deseret News heading into a showdown with No. 3 South Sevier in Monroe, whom the Red Devils earlier beat 89-84 in double overtime in Moab. This time, the teams atop the region boys standings played a close first half with South Sevier ahead at the break 33-27 before the Rams began to dominate in the third quarter, outscoring Grand 24-13 thanks to a run of success from behind the arc at the same time that Grand’s shooting went cold. The Rams turned on cruise control in the fourth, winning the game 70-56.
“(South Sevier) shot really well,” Grand boys basketball coach Scott Horton said. “A few lapses on defense and the game got away real quick.”
Horton said the Red Devils got away from their offense as South Sevier mounted its lead.
“I think we panicked a little bit, like someone had to be a hero instead of going one possession at a time,” he said.
In stark contrast to their earlier meeting, the Red Devils only attempted five free throws, connecting on two. In Moab, the Red Devils hit 26-of-36 from the line. On Friday, Senior Alec Williams and junior Nolan Ramirez each scored 13 points, while senior Masen Ward had 11 and senior Brayden Schultz had 10.
With the win, South Sevier (17-3, 8-2 Region 15) regained the lead in the Region 15 standings, while Grand (16-4, 8-3) sits in second following an 80-73 win at Richfield on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3.
“The guys knew they didn’t play well on Friday night, and on Saturday, they took it personal,” Horton said.
The Red Devils hit eight three-pointers in the contest to earn the win. Williams led the Red Devils in scoring with 22 points, as well as seven assists. Junior Cameron Hoppensteadt had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Ramirez had 15 points, Ward had 13 points and Schultz had 10 points.
Grand was scheduled to finish the regular season at Emery on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
“It’ll be a close, hard-fought game,” Horton said. “If we control what we can, we’ll stay at No. 2 and might even have a shot at No. 1, depending on what happens with South Sevier.”
First-round games in the state tournament will take place on Feb. 17 at Orem High School in Orem, while the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game will take place Feb. 22-24 at Dixie State University in St. George.
Boys fall to Rams, beat Wildcats
South Sevier 17-3, 8-2
Grand 16-4, 8-3
Manti 14-6, 6-4
Emery 10-9, 4-6
San Juan 10-11, 4-7
North Sanpete 11-9, 3-7
Richfield 9-10, 3-7