The Grand County boys basketball team tamed the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers 86-78 on Thursday, Dec. 12, at home.
The Red Devils outscored the Panthers 19-16 in the first quarter, 19-12 in the second and 28-23 in the third. The Panthers, who stalked Grand throughout the game, outscored the Red Devils by seven points in the final frame, 27-20, but Grand won the day with some rigid defense and a late rally of their own.
“Tonight we played as a team and that was the first time we played as a team this year and it was good to see,” coach Scott Horton said after the game. “It was a good game, a fun game. It was good to see the boys work together.”
Grand County had a height advantage in Kaine Allred. The Panthers, in turn, packed some power with the ability to land three-point shots. Montezuma-Cortez realized they could not play close to the net; Allred would always be there to block or Luke Williams would steal the ball.
The Red Devils countered the Panthers’ shooting prowess with speed. Nothing too fancy. Chasee Croasmun, Ryelan Jones and Milo Birdwell would run the ball straight down the middle of the court. Croasmun, Jones, Eli Hazlett and Birdwell charged the net with speed for the layup or the snap fade away and more often than not, Allred was the escort: If Jones, Hazlett or Birdwell missed, Allred was there to catch the ball in mid-air and tap it in.
Croasmun did not score any points, not for lack of trying. The ball frequently danced around the rim and refused to go in, even with Allred backing him up.
Hazlett had a monster night with 27 points, five three-pointers, and 11 rebounds. Allred had 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Birdwell picked up 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Luke Williams earned seven points, three rebounds, five assists and six steals. Ryelan Jones scored nine points with five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Rafe Saunders had two three-pointers for a total of six points and Tyler Lindsey had seven rebounds.
Allred had a special “Moab moment” late in the third quarter. A Panther intended to pass the ball to a teammate, but instead bounced the ball directly off Allred’s face. Allred was stunned for a second as the ball short-hopped away and Birdwell pounced on it. Allred shuddered like a wet dog and quickly ran back up the court. Birdwell from his knees lobbed the ball to Allred who caught it mid-court. Allred sprinted to the net and dunked and the crowd loved it.
Grand enjoyed a 10-point lead at halftime and the Red Devils had a 15-point lead until the bottom of the fourth when the Panthers staged a comeback and with less than five minutes to play, cutting the deficit to four points.
All night long, the Panthers had picked up off balance, outside buckets and three-pointers. In the fourth, Grand landed some off-balance shots of their own and that led to the hometown win.
The Red Devils are scheduled to attend the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic Tournament in Cedar City, Thursday thru Saturday, Dec. 26–28.