The Grand County High School boys basketball team may have come up short in its season-ending showdown with the Emery Spartans, but the Red Devils will still head to the 2A playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 15.
Grand had entered the home contest on Friday, Feb. 10 seeking revenge against the region-leading Spartans, who had beaten the Red Devils 61-50 at Emery on Jan. 20. A Red Devil victory on Feb. 10 would have meant a tie with Emery for the region title, as both teams would have finished with 8-2 records.
However, Emery built an early lead against the Red Devils last Friday and slowly added to it before pulling away in the final minutes for an 80-68 victory.
Alec Williams scored 21 points to lead the Red Devils, while Brayden Schultz added 12 and Kenyon Birdwell contributed 11.
The Spartans were led by Bowdie Jacobson’s 24 points, while Koby Butler added 21 and Kolton Butler chipped in 13.
“We knew they were going to do the same thing as they did before with their big guy,” said GCHS head coach Scott Horton. “They slowly pulled ahead as the game went on, and [we] were never quite able to close the gap.”
Once again, the disparity in free throws made the difference in the game, as Emery converted 24-of-31 free-throw attempts, while Grand made just 12-of-18 from the line.
“That was one of the things we talked about before the game — not putting them on the free-throw line,” Horton said. “But we are an aggressive team.”
The Spartans secured the Region 15 title with Friday’s win, while Grand dropped to 7-3 in region play, tying them with San Juan for second place, as the Broncos had lost to Manti that same night. A coin toss was then set up after Friday’s game, and Grand was chosen to flip the coin and call heads or tails. Derrick Beddoes, one of the Red Devils’ most faithful supporters, correctly picked “heads” as the coin was flipped, giving Grand the No. 2 seed in the upcoming state playoffs.
Grand (15-6 overall, 7-3 in region) will face the Rowland Hall Winged Lions on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10:10 a.m. at Orem High School. The winner of that first-round play-in game will advance to the 2A state playoffs the following week. Rowland Hall (5-15 overall, 3-5 in region play) is the No. 3 seed from Region 14.
“We feel good about our spot going into Saturday,” said Horton. “We got the game that we wanted, and now we have to go execute. If we play our game the way we have been playing, we should make it through the play-in game.”
On Thursday, Feb. 9, the night before their loss to Emery, the Red Devils defeated Monticello in a non-region game at Moab by a score of 51-27. That contest was close during the first half, with Grand taking a slim 17-16 advantage at halftime.
“We started slow against Monticello but managed to pull away in the second half, when we started shooting the ball better,” said coach Horton.
Grand outscored the Buckaroos 34-11 during the second half to coast to the easy win. Senior Christian Wilson paced the Red Devils with nine points, while Schultz added eight. Sophomore center Cameron Hoppensteadt added seven points, including a crowd-pleasing dunk toward the end of the game.
ByBy Jeff Richards