The Grand County High School girls basketball team lost an appeal of a region rules violation regarding an illegal scrimmage, which upheld a ruling that vacated one region victory, and resulted in a tiebreaker game being played for the final spot in the UHSAA Utah State 3A Girls Basketball Championship tournament between the Lady Red Devils and the Manti Lady Templars, which Manti won 44-38 in Salina on Wednesday, Feb. 13, ending the Lady Red Devils’ season.

The Grand County High School (GCHS) Lady Red Devils violated a pair of state rules on Thursday, Jan. 17, when they played a scrimmage against the sixth-grade boys traveling team at the LDS Stake Center, GCHS athletic director Ron Dolphin said. The rules violated were that the scrimmage counted as a competition and the Lady Red Devils already had the maximum amount of competitions allowed on their schedule, and that the sixth-grade travel team is not a member of UHSAA.

Dolphin said that in accordance with Region 15 rules, he self-reported the violation the following morning and the region ruled on Jan. 22 that if GCHS — which was win-less in region play at the time — won a region game, that win would be forfeited. The team was allowed to file an appeal with the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), which wouldn’t rule on the appeal until after regular-season play had concluded.

Dolphin said that he informed the team and coaches of what had happened on Jan. 23, prior to a pair of weekend home games versus North Sanpete and Manti on Jan. 25 and 26.

“I informed them of what transpired and told them to go out and win in hopes of an appeal,” Dolphin said. The Lady Red Devils won both games that weekend, 42-33 over North Sanpete and 50-48 over Manti, with the North Sanpete win being vacated pending appeal.

Dolphin added that all stakeholders in the appeal were in the loop regarding possible outcomes for several days prior the appeal being heard on Tuesday, Feb. 12, so they were aware that a tiebreaker game may or may not need to be played. GCHS finished at 2-10 in region play, while Manti finished 1-11, but a tiebreaker would ensue if the appeal failed.

“I met with UHSAA last Tuesday and presented our case, and they ruled to let the region’s decision stand,” Dolphin said. “We decided it would be better to have the tiebreaker be played on the 13th, rather than Valentine’s Day. I had two sites lined up, (Castle Dale and Salina), and (GCHS girls basketball coach Randy Martin) chose Salina because the shorter floor would be better with so few girls on our team.”

In the tiebreaker game, Manti’s 22-point second quarter proved to be the difference, despite 19 points from senior Hannah Owen, 13 points and 16 rebounds from senior Veda Gritts and six points and five steals from senior Mercedes Zunich in what turned out to be their final high school game.

Dolphin said he feels for the girls after they had their playoff hopes dashed.

“It was just an unfortunate thing that happened,” Dolphin said. “Randy wasn’t trying to gain an upper hand or any unfair advantage. He just thought it would be fun to give those guys a different look and help them out. There was nothing sneaky or illegal intended.”

The Lady Templars went on to play Carbon in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, Feb. 16 (in last week’s edition of Moab Sun News, it was reported that GCHS would play Carbon), and the Lady Dinos, who won the Region 14 title, beat Manti 58-29 to advance to the quarterfinal. The remainder of the tournament takes place at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield Thursday, Feb. 21, through Saturday, Feb. 23.