The Grand County High School (GCHS) boys and girls basketball teams are set to begin their 2019-20 seasons this week as the Red Devil boys play versus North Sanpete at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday, Nov. 22, while the girls open play at Monticello on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
The Red Devil boys will have five new varsity starters, four of whom are seniors: Kaine Allred, Milo Birdwell, Luke Williams and Eli Hazlett. Among them, Allred was GCHS’s largest varsity contributor in 2018-19, scoring 4.25 points per game.
The Red Devils will sport a somewhat different style this year after losing a large class of seniors last year, including dynamic big man Cameron Hoppensteadt.
“This year, we don't have that dominant big man,” GCHS boys basketball coach Scott Horton said. “We're looking to run – push the ball. We're going to play a variety of different defenses to slow bigger teams down.”
Although they don't have a lot of varsity experience, Horton said he is confident in his varsity lineup.
“They’ve all been with the program for four years, and I coached some of them a little bit even before that,” Horton said. “They know the system and our expectations for offense and defense. I feel that they'll be more than capable at the varsity level.”
The Red Devils lost in the state quarterfinals, then lost their subsequent consolation bracket game in the 3A state tournament last season after finishing tied for fourth in Region 15 at 6-6 (16-8 overall, including playoffs).
This year in Region 12, they'll play most of the same foes, losing North Sanpete and Manti, and gaining Carbon.
“Every night we play, we’ve got to play hard,” Horton said. “There are no nights off in our region. South Sevier is never going to be down. Emery won’t be down. San Juan is always tough.”
This will be the Red Devils’ second straight year playing a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz. On Dec. 22, 2018, GCHS beat Summit Academy 62-46.
“It’s good that they get the opportunity to play on the Utah Jazz floor,” Horton said. “Not a lot of high school players get that same opportunity.”
Horton said that in order to get invited to play at Vivint, teams have to sell Jazz tickets.
“It’s a long process – it doesn’t just happen,” he said. “Once you get invited, you still have to find a team to play against that has the same availability.”
The girls basketball team, led by first-year head coach Andrea Noyes, will look to improve upon last season's mark of 2-10 in region play, 7-15 overall, but it will be a tall order as the Lady Red Devils graduated all but 56 points of their entire 2018-19 production. They open play on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m., in Monticello.