The Grand County High School boys’ basketball team is one step closer to a championship season after they disposed of the Carbon Dinos, 69-56, in the first round of the UHSAA 3A playoffs on Saturday, Feb. 17 in Heber City.
While the Red Devils have consistently been a fourth-quarter team all season long, they turned up the heat in the first three quarters, leading Carbon 24-18 at the half, and 47-29 after the first 24 minutes of play.
The true heavy lifting on offense for Grand County came courtesy of 6 foot 4 inch junior Cameron Hoppensteadt. While he only put up six points in the first half, he exploded with 17 more in the second half off five baskets and seven free throws. The senior class duo of Masen Ward and Alec Williams put up 12 points each, with Ward putting a trio three-pointers on the mark. Williams added two three-pointers and three baskets in the win.
Grand County head coach Scott Horton said the Dinos’ defense attempted to stifle Hoppensteadt, but didn’t get very far — especially in the final 16 minutes of the game.
“With the defenses we have seen this season, a lot of them have tried to shut [Hoppensteadt] down,” Horton said. “Carbon pressed him really hard, but Cam is always going to get his shots, no matter what you do. He was a little less aggressive in the first half with shooting, but once he turned it on, it was on. The whole team was actually pretty dead-on with their shooting, and both Williams and Ward had excellent luck under the basket.”
After the game, Hoppensteadt told The Times-Independent that altitude was a factor in the outcome of the game.
“We decided to go out and play solid and hard through four quarters of basketball,” Hoppensteadt said. “I think for us the altitude was a factor, and starting out was a little tough, but we stuck together and got the win.”
Other scorers for the Red Devils were Brayden Schultz (8), Josh Jones (6), Kevin Park (3), Teddy Park (2), Tyson Horton (2) and Milo Birdwell (1).
While the Dinos had two scorers in double-digit territory — Derek Hillam (19) and Ryan Gagon (18) — the Red Devils’ defense held their entire offense to just 19 more points spread across five shooters.
The No. 2-seed Red Devils faced the No. 4-seed Grantsville Cowboys on Thursday, Feb. 22 at Dixie State University in the second round of the 3A playoffs. The results for that game were not available by press time. A win against Grantsville will send Grand County to face the winner of the game between No.1 Morgan and No. 3 Manti on Friday, Feb. 23.
“We’ve been taking these playoff games just like we took the regular season, just one game at a time,” Horton said. “When we do that, and keep focused, we tend to win those games. It’s always just one game at a time.”