By Nathaniel Smith • The Times-Independent
Grand County High School’s boys basketball team started off its season in style with a big win at home against the Green River Pirates. The Red Devil offense was in high gear with five players scoring in double digits on the way to 88-66 victory.
The Pirates managed to keep the game close in the first half, but in the second the Red Devils found their rhythm, tightened their defense and built a sizable lead. Grand scraped out a four-point advantage by the end of the first quarter, but Green River won the second quarter by five to take a 36-35 lead going into halftime.
After the break, the Red Devils turned up the defensive intensity, forcing turnovers and coming away with some easy baskets. Grand put up more than 50 points in the second half, pouring on 30 in the final quarter. The Red Devils’ fourth quarter output matched the Green River’s total for the entire second half.
Grand coach Scott Horton admitted the team “didn’t look our best,” but noted a few rough spots are to be expected in the first game of the season.
“We made some good second half adjustments,” Horton said. “We ended up pulling away.” Despite all the points Grand put on the board, Horton credited the team’s defense with securing the win. When asked what adjustment made the difference, Horton responded, “We just got sound on defense … that’s where our whole game starts.” He added, “When you don’t play defense, it’s hard to score on people.”
Horton said the team came out in the second half with a trapping defense that forced a lot of turnovers. The strategy’s success was reflected in the box score as Grand racked up 19 steals while only turning over the ball 10 times during the course of the game.
Senior Kevin Park was Grand’s leading scorer with 24 points. He shot an impressive 69 percent from the field and went three-for-five from beyond the arc. Park also dished out five assists, nabbed four rebounds and came up with a steal. Junior Kaine Allred piled up 22 points and seven boards plus a couple of blocks. Senior Nolan Ramirez added 15 points and 5 assists to Grand’s offensive effort, but it was his team-high seven steals that arguably made the biggest impact. Seniors Teddy Park and Tyson Horton each added 11 points.
After getting the home win to start the season, Grand has a lengthy stretch of road games. Following the tournament in Duchesne, Grand traveled to Monticello on Dec. 4 to take on the Buckaroos. The results were unavailable when the B section of this week’s The Times-Independent went to press. On Dec. 11, Grand will have a rematch with the Pirates in Green River. The Red Devils won’t be back on their home court until Dec. 18, when the Buckaroos come to Moab for a showdown at 7 p.m.