Broncos open new year with two wins at Steve Hodson Cancer Classic
The San Juan High School boys basketball team opened 2022 this past week at the 13th annual Steve Hodson Cancer Classic at Canyon View High School in Cedar City, UT.
The tournament features top teams from the 2A through 4A classifications and is staged in memory of Hodson, a former Canyon View, Cedar High, and Southern Utah University basketball coach who died in 2008 after battling cancer for eight years.
Proceeds from the sale of admission tickets and other donations go toward helping selected individuals in the St. George community who are battling cancer and their families.
The event is quite popular and produces good competition each year. It’s the second straight year the Broncos participated in the round-robin format.
This year San Juan faced the undefeated 3A #1 Grantsville Cowboys, the 4A #4 Hurricane Tigers, and the host 3A Canyon View Falcons, who were 2-7 coming into the tourney.
San Juan Head Coach Travis Black said his players were a bit sluggish to start the event on Tuesday, December 28 against Canyon View – understandable since they were just three days removed from Christmas Day.
Though Black said he felt the team was capable of beating the Falcons by more, the Broncos still put together a 61-55 win in their opening game, outscoring their opponents in the first and third quarters.
They built a 31-27 halftime lead, increased it to 48-38 at the end of three, and held Canyon View off in fourth quarter. San Juan shot just 40 percent from the floor (22 of 55).
They ended the game 4 for 17 from beyond the arc for 23.5 percent – uncharacteristic for a team that has shot well from long range all season. The Broncos were 13 of 21 from the free throw line for 62 percent in the win.
In game two of the tournament on Wednesday, December 29 San Juan faced the tough Hurricane Tigers, who had won five of their last six games, including a victory over South Sevier in their first game at Canyon View the day prior.
Coach Black said the Tigers have a number of tall, athletic players, and the Broncos had their hands full right from the start. But they battled to win the opening quarter 13-9.
Hurricane answered in the second quarter, turning the tables to outscore San Juan 13-9 for a 26-26 tie at halftime.
The tight battle continued in the third quarter with the Falcons beating San Juan by just a bucket 11-9. The Broncos kept the game close throughout the fourth quarter but were never able to regain the lead.
With 13 seconds remaining and down 45-42 San Juan had the ball, but Jayden Black’s three-point attempt fell short.
The Broncos beat the Falcons to the loose ball, and scored as time expired, but it was just a two-pointer from Cooper Black and the game ended with a 45-44 final in favor of Hurricane.
It’s impressive the game was as close as it was. Coach Black lamented that the 44 points is obviously way off the Broncos’ offensive pace this season.
The team shot a dismal 27 percent from the floor in the loss and were just six of 23 from three-point range. Black blamed his team’s inability to hit the three for never allowing them to open the lane and drive to the basket.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for San Juan, but they bounced back for their best performance of the tournament on Thursday, December 30 against 3A #1-ranked Grantsville.
Coming into the tournament the Cowboys were 7-0 and they beat Parowan and Canyon View in their first two games at the event to move to 9-0.
It was a tentative first quarter with the teams mustering only 19 points – ten for Grantsville and nine for San Juan. But in the second frame they exploded for 39 points as the Broncos rallied to tie the game at 29-all at the half.
San Juan took firm command in the third quarter, outscoring the Cowboys 19-9 to grab a 48-38 lead. They continued to bring the offense in the final frame with strong foul shooting to close out a nice 62-48 win.
The Broncos were a very impressive 19 of 22 from the free throw line (nine of ten in the second half), which was a big factor in their win over the top 3A team in the state. Jensen Grover was a perfect nine for nine in the game.
San Juan’s shooting improved in the final game of the tournament also. They were 20 of 41 from the field for 49 percent. But they still couldn’t match their season pace from beyond the three-point arc, shooting just three of 12 on the day.
Jensen Grover led Bronco scoring at the tournament with 41 points in the three games. Cooper Black and Ladd Ivins were right behind with 39 and 38 respectively.
Jace Palmer scored 21 points, Jayden Black got 15, Preston Imlay 11, and Bronsen Snyder knocked down a couple.
Ivins hit four threes in the tourney, Imlay and Grover got three apiece, Palmer scored two, and Cooper Black hit one.
Jayden Black made all seven of the free throws he attempted at the tournament and Jensen Grover was a stellar 16 for 17.
The Broncos’ strongest rebounder was Palmer with 26. Cooper Black got 17, Ivins pulled down 14, Jayden Black got 13, and Cadin McPherson had seven boards.
Defensively, Cooper Black led the way with six steals and a shot block. Grover had five takeaways and Palmer had four.
Heading into this week the Broncos were 9-2, ranked #1 in the 2A Utah High School Activities Association RPI standings. They opened the week in Castle Dale against the Emery Spartans on Tuesday, January 4.
The toughest test of the week is coming up on Friday, January 7 when they open Region 19 play against #2 Enterprise at home.
The Deseret News ranks the 9-1 Wolves #1 and the 9-2 Broncos #2. That situation will be settled (temporarily) in the SJHS gym on Friday.
Then San Juan welcomes the #8 Parowan Rams to Blanding on Saturday, January 8. Friday’s matchup tips at 7 p.m. with the Saturday tip time set for 4 p.m.
Both games will be broadcast live on Redrock 92 Radio with streaming video at PictureItPalmer.com.