Lane Berry, No. 34, handles the ball against a Delta defender on Friday, Feb. 28 in Moab. The Thunderbirds won the game 32-28, but lost to the same team in the opening round of the tournament Saturday, Feb. 29 to end their season. [Photo by Tim Chappell / Moab Sun News]

The Grand County Middle School boys basketball team, the Thunderbirds, hosted teams from around the region for a season-ending tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and 29. The Thunderbirds fielded two teams, one of which went undefeated in pool play, before both teams were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Thunderbirds-1 went undefeated in pool play, beating Delta 32-28 and Grand Junction 40-32 on Friday night, and the Blanding Mustangs 36-29 on Saturday morning. Coach Conrad Yanito attributed their pool play success to strong defense and getting a lot of steals.

The Thunderbirds-2 team, comprised of younger athletes, beat Cortez 43-18 and lost to Titans 31-22 on opening night, before losing to the Fruita Wildcats 42-21 on Saturday morning, earning the No. 9 seed in the tournament.

“The team was a younger team,” Yanito said, “so there was a lack of size and strength, but overall both teams played very well and got tons of experience.”

Both Thunderbirds-1 and Thunderbirds-2 lost in the first round of the tournament Saturday afternoon to teams they had beaten in pool play. Thunderbirds-2 fell to Cortez 43-21, while Thunderbirds-1 lost Delta, the eventual winner of the tournament, 47-46.

“The game against Delta in the opening round of the tournament was a close battle,” Yanito said. “Turnovers really stood out. Delta capitalized on its steals there at the end to get the upset win.”

Yanito said that Thunderbirds-2 went 18-8 and the older Thunderbirds-1 went 19-7 for the season.

Yanito wished to thank all the parents and businesses that either helped with the team or donated resources for the tournament. He also expressed pride in the teams’ efforts.

“I’m very proud of the boys and the learning experience they’ve all gained from this season,” he said.