When the Grand County Red Devils boys’ basketball squad returned to the court this week they began competition against teams from 3A Region 15. That’s a bump up from last season when Grand County played at the 2A level. In addition to Grand, former 2A Region 15 teams from Emery, Manti and San Juan also jumped to the 3A level, while Gunnison Valley and North Sevier remained in 2A. North Sanpete and Richfield remained in 3A during realignment.
The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) adopted the assignment of schools into the new regions in 2016 for the two-year period of 2017 through 2019. The changes were based on the most current enrollment data from the State of Utah.
The Red Devils are averaging 63.8 points a night, with senior Masen Ward leading the charge on just under 11 points per game. Alec Williams isn’t far behind with 9.1 points, and Cameron Hoppenstaedt and Brayden Schultz are each scoring 8.4 points every matchup. Ward is also 13-40 from the three-point arc and is 6-14 from the free-throw line. Tyson Horton leads in bonus-point percentages, going 7-8, though the Park brothers, Teddy and Kevin, are 17-22 from the line. Defensively, Schultz has the best across-the-board numbers so far with 31 rebounds, 18 steals and eight blocks.
With that in mind, the Red Devils likely have their hands full. Here is a look at the teams Grand County will face in the coming months.
Red Devils foes in
3A Region 15
North Sanpete High School Hawks (8-2)
When it comes to North Sanpete, the Red Devils will have three players to keep a close eye on; Hawks seniors Shawn Taylor, Spencer Steadman and Jalen Sorenson have all averaged double digits during the first nine non-region games of the season. While Taylor leads with 14.3 points per game, Steadman is averaging 12.4 points and leading the defense with 4.2 rebounds (5.4 overall) in every contest. Taylor and Steadman are also handing out five assists a game and averaging three steals.
On offense, Steadman is nothing short of supernatural and is shooting 45 percent from outside the arc on three-point plays. He is also shooting 81 percent from the free-throw line and has logged 42 assists, 25 steals and four blocks.
The Hawks went 6-16 overall in 3A during the 2016-2017 season and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
South Sevier High School Rams (7-1)
South Sevier made it to the second round of the playoffs last season behind a 19-7 overall record. So far this season, the Rams have rallied behind their own three-senior group of offensive producers — Caleb Barton, Brodee Tebbs and Easton Hunt — a trio that has scored 360 of the team’s 578 points scored up to this week. Barton leads the pack with 138 points and 17.3 points per game, though Tebbs is shooting 94 percent from the line and 44 percent from three-point territory. Defensively, Barton is also sure to put a scare into opponents with his average of 6.8 rebounds in each matchup.
Rams junior Kaetz King is also expected to be a big producer for both sides of the ball. He has scored 71 points so far this year and grabbed 45 rebounds, all while dishing 28 assists and adding 14 steals and a block.
Manti High School
The Templars, always a powerhouse in 2A competition, are already on course to match or exceed last season’s record of 10-14, which is a tally that allowed them to make it to the first round of playoffs. With seven seniors in the lineup this year, however, the team from central Sanpete County might be tough for any team to handle.
Even though there are seven upperclassmen on the team, the undisputed leader of the Templars on the hardwood is 6-foot senior Matt Nelson. So far this season he has penciled in 75 of his team’s 316 points for an average of 15 each game. He is also the most likely to shoot for three as he has dropped 11 of his 37 tries from outside the arc. Defensively, he has logged 30 rebounds, 10 steals and two blocks, and also passed out 17 assists. He also scored a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) in the Templars’ 67-55 win over Enterprise on Dec. 1, 2017.
Emery High School
The Emery Spartans recorded the best record in 2A Region 15 competition last season, going 9-2 (22-3 overall) and making it to the second round of the playoffs before falling to North Summit. This season the Spartans have started at 6-2, with their only losses coming at a December tournament in Richfield.
One of the biggest factors Grand will encounter facing Emery is that their starting five — Tyler Butler, Kyson Stilson, Case Brazier, Brax Jensen and Easton Gordon — are all averaging 10 points or more in a game. Butler leads the pack with 17.6 a night, while Stilson is scoring 16.6 in every game and leading under the basket with seven rebounds. Between Butler, Stilson and Brazier, the three have scored 383 of the team’s 591 points so far this season. Butler is also shooting right around 50 percent from the three-point arc and has logged 42 assists, 15 steals and two blocks in the stat books.
Richfield High School
Aside from a 28-point blowout over North Sevier back on Dec. 6, 2017, the Richfield Wildcats have been winning their games by an average 6.2 points in a match. Those wins have come against Juab, Cedar City, Hurricane, Carbon, North Sevier and Judge Memorial. Their three losses have come from Pine View, St. George and Snow Canyon. The Wildcats’ coaching staff has not submitted current game-by-game statistics.
Last season Richfield went 4-4 in region and 9-13 overall, making it to the second round of the playoffs before falling in the second round to eventual 3A runner-up, Juan Diego Catholic.
San Juan High School
Grand County’s archrival, the San Juan Broncos, enter the 3A Region 15 fray at .500, after losses to Shiprock (NM), Durango (Colorado) and Bayfield (Colorado). Their three wins this year have come from a pair of teams in New Mexico, Newcomb and Piedra Vista, and an 84-47 walloping of Monticello on Dec. 20.
Despite going 17-8 overall last year (7-3 in 2A Region 15), the Broncos fell in the first round of the playoffs to Layton Christian Academy. This season, head coach Ryan Nielson will see four seniors — Baylr Eldredge, Dylan Ivins, Jaden Torgerson and Ethan Pugh — in the lineup. The Broncos’ coaching staff has not submitted current game-by-game statistics, but Torgerson could be an influence on both sides for San Juan as he recorded 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.