The Grand County High School boys basketball team’s season came to an end with a pair of defeats in the UHSAA Utah State 3A Boys Basketball Championship tournament on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 21 and 22, in Richfield.
The Grand County High School (GCHS) Red Devils lost 77-56 to Emery in the state quarterfinals on Thursday, then lost on Friday 88-73 to Judge Memorial in the consolation bracket.
On Thursday, a disastrous second quarter and a dramatic rebounding and free throw shooting disparity were the difference as Region 15 foe Emery, against whom the Red Devils went 1-1 in the regular season, bested GCHS in the rubber match. The Spartans outscored the Red Devils 22-8 in the quarter. For the contest, the Spartans out-rebounded GCHS 40-24 and took 13 more free throws than the Red Devils, making 18 of 33 to GCHS' 12 of 20. The Spartans also shot 52 percent from the field while the Red Devils shot on 41 percent.
Senior Cameron Hoppensteadt was GCHS’ leading scorer and rebounder, with 29 and 15. No other player had more than three rebounds for the Red Devils. Senior Nolan Ramirez was the next leading scorer, netting nine points.
The GCHS Red Devils didn’t fare much better the following day against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs, again falling behind in the second quarter, although the key for the Bulldogs was their blistering shooting percentage of 62. Judge Memorial had a particular advantage from behind the arc, hitting 10 of 16 attempts, while GCHS hit seven of 32.
Hoppensteadt scored 29 points again, while senior Teddy Park had 18 points, his twin brother Kevin Park had nine and Ramirez had eight.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, that’s all I can say,” GCHS boys basketball coach Scott Horton said. “The boys played hard.”
The Red Devils finished the season with a 16-8 overall record and a 6-6 mark in Region 15 play. For the season, Hoppensteadt averaged a double-double, leading GCHS in both scoring and rebounding with 15 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. Kevin Park also averaged double digits in scoring at 10.5, while Ramirez pilfered the opposition for 69 steals, a rate of 2.9 per game.
Horton said he has been coaching this particular group of players since elementary school traveling basketball, making this outcome harder to swallow.
“They’re an amazing group of kids,” he said. “I’ve been around them since they were young. I know their families. They’re just good kids.”
In all, the Red Devils bid farewell to seven seniors: Hoppensteadt, Ramirez, the Park twins, Connor Guerrero, Tyson Horton and Andrew Hansen. Behind the seniors were a talented group of juniors and sophomores who will be tasked with picking up where this group left off.
“It was fun every single day,” coach Horton said of the season. “I look forward to seeing what we can do next year.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO SPRING SPORTS
Practice has begun for the GCHS spring sports of baseball, softball, boys soccer, boys tennis, girls golf and track and field.
The boys soccer team will be at Richfield for the first contest of the spring sports season on Tuesday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m. On Wednesday, March 6, at 11 a.m., the girls golf team begins play on its home course. Junior Varsity softball is at San Juan for a double header that afternoon at 3 and 4:30 p.m.
The baseball team begins the season at a tournament in Bloomfield, New Mexico, from Thursday, March 7, through Saturday, March 9. On Saturday, March 9, the track and field team hosts the Red Rock Invitational beginning at 9 a.m., and the boys tennis team is the last to officially begin competition, on Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, at the St. George Invitational.