Lady Devils end hoops season with Manti win

The Grand County High School girls basketball team ended the season on a high note, picking up a 43-32 home win against Manti on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“We saved our best basketball for the last game of the season,” GCHS head coach Randy Martin said after the Lady Devils earned their first and only region win of the season. The victory also eliminated Manti from playoff contention.

“It seemed like everything we had coached the team on all season long came together for 32 minutes against Manti, with outstanding defense, timely steals, great ball movement on offense and some solid shooting from all our players,” Martin added.

Sophomore center Veda Gritts led the way for Grand with 14 points, while senior forward Katie McKay added nine points. Sophomore guard Hannah Owen added eight points.

Coach Martin singled out McKay’s solid effort as being critical to Grand’s win.

“Katie McKay played a great all-around game,” Martin said. “Her defense was outstanding. She rebounded well and found a way to get to the basket and score for us all night long.”

“A lot of what Katie does on the court does not show up in the box score with her smart play on offense and her solid defense,” Martin added. “It is not until you review the film after the game that you see just how solid of an all-around player she truly is. We are going to miss Katie next season.”

Grand trailed Manti 9-3 early in contest, but the Lady Devils rallied to take a 12-11 lead at the end of the first period.

“Our girls all kept their composure and came right back,” Martin said

Freshman Taylor Bryant provided the team with a much-needed boost from the bench, Martin said. Not only did Bryant score a basket and make a few key free throws, her solid defense in the post helped shut down Manti’s inside game, he added.

Martin also had high praise for Gritts and Owen.

“Manti had a real match-up problem with Veda, and she took advantage of this and was able to get to the basket and score,” he said. “And when she missed a shot, it seemed like Hannah Owen was there securing the offensive rebound and scoring on a put-back.”

With the win, the Lady Devils ended a six-game losing streak to finish with an overall record of 7-12, including 1-9 in Region 15 play.

“I was really happy for our girls, especially our seniors, to be able to send them off with a win in their final game of their career,” Martin said. “It has been a challenging year for the team on a lot of different fronts, but it was great to end the season with a nice win.”

Earlier in the week, the Lady Devils lost twice on the road. After falling to Monticello 52-32 on Tuesday, Feb. 7, Grand lost to region champion Emery 76-19 at Castle Dale on Thursday, Feb. 9.

The Lady Devils started out slowly in both of those games, falling behind Monticello 20-4 in the first quarter. Two nights later against Emery, the Lady Spartans nearly duplicated that result in grabbing a 19-4 lead in the first quarter.

“We came out flat to start the game,” Martin said of the Monticello contest. “We made a run early in the second quarter to close the lead to 10. The girls told me after the game that the run they made in the second quarter gave them confidence and they began to play our style of basketball. Even though it ended in a loss, I was encouraged by our girls’ play in the last three quarters of the game.”

Against the Lady Buckaroos, Gritts led the Lady Devils in scoring with 12 points, while Owen added nine.

“When we switched to man-to-man defense, Hannah Owen was given the task of guarding Monticello’s leading scorer, Atlanta Black,” Martin said. “Hannah did a great job on defense, holding Atlanta below her season average.”

Black finished with a game high 16 points, four below her season average, as the Lady Buckaroos improved to 19-2 overall. They’ll enter the 1A tournament as the No. 1 seed from Region 19.

Grand traveled to the Emery game on Feb. 9 with only seven players, four of whom were sick with colds or flu and one who had a sore ankle.

“Despite the lopsided final score, we moved the ball well, rebounded well and were able to break Emery’s press which we struggled with when we played them previously,” Martin said. “What hurt us is with only seven girls, I could not substitute to give our girls rest to be able to keep them fresh to stop their fast break. Our girls tried their best, but they just could not keep up with Emery’s players in transition.”

“Taylor Bryant continues to play solid basketball. She had no fear going right at the center from Emery, who is 6-foot-1,” Martin added. “Taylor had a couple of her shots blocked, but she also scored on a couple of nice inside shots and put-backs and was fouled going to the basket on several occasions.”

While the Lady Devils’ season is officially over, Emery (19-1 overall, 10-1 in region play) will head to the 2A state tournament as the No. 1 seed from Region 15. Emery’s first-round game is against Waterford on Friday, Feb. 17.

ByBy Jeff Richards

The Times-Independent