The Grand County High School (GCHS) boys and girls basketball teams both continued their winning ways in the days before and during winter break, as the boys won four games in five days, the last of which was at Vivint Smart Home Arena, while the girls beat Pinnacle Academy and Green River before the break, then handily defeated the alumni on Dec. 28.
The swimming team also competed versus Emery and Millard in Castle Dale on Dec. 20, taking second among boys teams and third among girls. The wrestling team hasn’t been in action since Dec. 15, but heads to the 3A Duals in Richfield this weekend.
The boys basketball team won games on three consecutive nights Dec. 18-20, then had a day off before playing in Salt Lake City versus Summit Academy on Dec. 22. The Red Devils and Bears played on the Utah Jazz home floor with GCHS coming out on top 62-46.
“They turned on the lights and called the players out to the floor,” GCHS boys basketball coach Scott Horton said of the arena staff. “They tried to make it special for the kids. It was a fun experience.”
Following the pregame festivities, the Red Devils overcame their nerves and had success shooting the ball against the Bears.
“We were a little nervous because the last time we played Summit Academy they whooped our butts. But we played really good defense and our shooting was on point,” Horton said. “I was worried because we don’t play on rims like that, but we shot the ball really well. I think we were over 50 percent from the three-point line.”
Later that evening, both teams were in attendance as the Utah Jazz played the Oklahoma City Thunder, losing 107-106.
Versus the Bears, senior Connor Guerrero led GCHS in scoring with 14 points, while fellow seniors Cameron Hoppensteadt and Kevin Park each had 12 points and senior Teddy Park had 11. Hoppensteadt also had 13 rebounds, senior Tyson Horton had seven assists and senior Nolan Ramirez had three steals.
The Red Devils also beat Monticello 50-38 in Moab on Dec. 18; beat Wayne on the road 67-48 on Dec. 19; and beat Monument Valley 77-47 in Moab on Dec. 20.
Versus Monticello, GCHS held their opponent under 20 points total the first three quarters before the Buckaroos went on a “garbage time” run to make the score look more respectable. Guerrero had 12 points and Ramirez had 10 to pace the Red Devils.
The following night, GCHS had its way with Wayne, steadily outscoring the Badgers throughout the contest en route to the win. Kevin Park scored 16 points, Hoppensteadt scored 10 and Guerrero and Horton each scored nine.
Versus Monument Valley, GCHS jumped out to a 24-14 lead after one quarter, but did the bulk of their damage in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents 29-8. Junior Luke Williams had 15 points, Ramirez had 10 points and junior Eli Hazlett had nine points.
The GCHS girls also went undefeated in the week leading up to winter break, beating Pinnacle Academy 62-27 in Price on Dec. 18, and beating Green River 58-48 in Moab on Dec. 21.
Versus the Panthers, Senior Hannah Owen had 20 points and senior Mercedes Zunich had 18. Senior Veda Gritts nearly had a triple double with 17 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists, as well as four blocks. Despite being the Lady Red Devils’ center, coach Randy Martin said Gritts leads 3A in assists, averaging nearly six per game.
“Veda has a knack for knowing who’s going to be open and getting them the ball, whether its Hannah cutting through the lane, or Mercedes or Josie (Camps) on the weak side,” Martin said.
Against the Lady Panthers, Martin said the Lady Red Devils played a great game, both offensively and defensively. Against Green River three days later, however, GCHS got off to a fast start, but didn’t close the game well, he said.
“We didn’t finish them off the way we had other teams,” Martin said. “We didn’t do a good job closing them out and even let them back into it in the fourth quarter.”
Despite letting them hang around, the Lady Red Devils got the 58-48 win. Zunich and Owen each scored 17 points, while Gritts had 16 points and 20 rebounds.
The Lady Red Devils played against the GCHS Alumni in the second annual alumni game on Dec. 28, winning 58-21.
Both basketball teams will now turn their focus to region play beginning this weekend. The boys play at home versus Manti on Friday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m., then host North Sanpete on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 4 p.m. The girls play on the road versus the same opponents at the same times.
“You play these preseason games to get everything worked out and get prepared for region,” Horton said. “You can’t play down to competition. Every game matters now.”
Red Devil winter sports teams to begin region play
“They turned on the lights and called the players out to the floor. They tried to make it special for the kids. It was a fun experience.”
What: GCHS swimming versus North Summit, South Summit and Emery
When: Friday, Jan. 4, 3:30 p.m.
What: GCHS swimming versus North Summit and South Summit
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 9 a.m.
Where: Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. 374 N. Park Ave.
What: GCHS boys basketball versus Manti
When: Friday, Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
What: GCHS boys basketball versus North Sanpete
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 4 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School gymnasium, 608 S. 400 East