GCMS boys basketball team starts season with wins at Kayenta tournament, Blanding

Grand County Middle School’s boys basketball teams have gotten their season off to an impressive start, according to coach Conrad Yanito.

Competing in the Kayenta Middle School junior varsity tournament in Kayenta, Ariz., on Dec. 6 and 7, the GCMS seventh-grade boys team won all four of its games by a combined score of 166-38.

Grand’s Cameron Hoppensteadt scored a total of 30 points for the tournament, and was named the tournament MVP. Eight other GCMS players scored 10 points or more during the tournament, Yanito said. Grand’s wins came against Pinon, Ariz., Page, Ariz., and two teams from Blanding, he said.

“The host tournament officials commented on our exhausting defense,” Yanito said, noting that this marked the second straight year that the GCMS seventh graders have won the tournament in Kayenta.

In other recent GCMS boys basketball action, the C team lost to Blanding’s C team 42-32, but the GCMS B team defeated Blanding’s team 46-25. In the B-team contest, Nolan Ramirez scored 13 points and Teddy Park added 10 for the Thunderbirds.

GCMS also won the eighth-grade contest against Blanding, by a score of 55-24. Josh Jones led the way with 17 points, and Alec Williams added 14.

“We made a lot of our points off defense,” Yanito said. “Our defense was our main focus coming into the game, because they out-sized us, and [we] didn’t want that to be a factor. Our pressure defense was a key factor. We didn’t want them get any momentum whatsoever.”

Next up for the Thunderbirds is a home contest on Wednesday, Dec. 18 against Mont Harmon Junior High. The seventh-grade game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and the eighth-grade game is set for 6 p.m. The following day, the Thunderbirds will play in an away contest on Thursday, Dec. 19 against Canyon View Junior High in Huntington.

Yanito thanked assistant coaches Drew Birdwell, Eric Haycock, Wesley Rodda, and Scott Horton for their help and support.