The Grand County High School (GCHS) girls basketball team stormed out of the locker room on Tuesday, Nov. 20, for its season opener, holding the host Green River Lady Pirates to only eight points in the first half, en route to a 60-25 victory.
The Lady Red Devils’ 34-point first half, in which coach Randy Martin said they executed well both offensively and defensively, reinforced their level of excitement for the upcoming season.
Martin said that GCHS employed the press defense right from the beginning, creating turnovers that led to easy baskets on the offensive end. Throughout the game, the Lady Red Devils collected 12 steals.
“With the depth we have at the varsity level, we’re able to run,” Martin said. “We moved the ball well on both the offensive and defensive ends and executed fast breaks well.”
The Lady Red Devils aren’t used to the depth they have this year. Last year, only 11 girls joined the basketball team. This year, there are at least 14, according to the roster on maxpreps.com, five of whom are seniors: Veda Gritts, Hannah Owen, Josie Camps, Mercedes Zunich and Annabelle Garrett. Both Gritts and Garrett are over 6-feet tall.
“I’d be willing to bet there are less than a handful of teams in the entire state that have two 6-foot-1 players,” Martin said. “We’re blessed to have that, and we plan to take advantage of it as much as we can.”
Martin added that most of last year’s team returned for this year, in addition to some newcomers.
“Of the 11 players we had total last year, we have nine of them back with another year in the system,” Martin said. “We’re able to run more and I’m able to substitute more often because I have faith in the players coming off the bench.”
Owen, Gritts and Zunich all filled the stat sheet with their performances in the season opener. Owen had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Gritts scored 15 points and had 23 rebounds and Zunich scored 12 points to go with five assists and three steals.
“Hannah worked her tail off getting ready for this season and it shows,” Martin said. “Mercedes had a whale of a game both offensively and defensively and defensively, and Veda put on lots of muscle since last year – I’m 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and she throws me around like a ragdoll in practice.”
The Lady Red Devils were scheduled to play at Monticello on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the same time the boys basketball team opens its season at home versus Green River.
“We were originally supposed to play Monticello at home, but the boys game was at the same time, so one of us had to move,” Martin said. “This time, it was us.”
After the Monticello game, GCHS heads to Price for a three-day tournament from Thursday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 1, where they’ll play South Summit, Carbon and Union.
“Carbon is one of the top teams in 3A this year; they’ll be extraordinarily tough,” Martin said. “South Summit and Union are very good teams, too.”
Martin said GCHS scheduled this tournament early in the season as a way to get exposure to the style of play teams in other regions run, to prepare them for the state tournament at the end of the season. The Lady Red Devils’ first home game is Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2:30 p.m., versus Gunnison Valley.
Each of GCHS’ other winter sports teams are in action this weekend. The wrestling team opens its season with the Moab Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30, and Dec. 1, and the swimming team hosts Millard and Hurricane in a three-team meet on Friday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m. The boys basketball team travels up U.S. Highway 191 for the Duchesne Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30, and Dec. 1. The Red Devils also play at Monticello on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Their next home game is also against Monticello, on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.
GCHS excited about depth on this year’s team
“With the depth we have at the varsity level, we’re able to run. We moved the ball well on both the offensive and defensive ends and executed fast breaks well.”
When: Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1
Where: Grand County High School gymnasium, 608 S. 400 East
When: Friday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center, 374 N. Park Ave.