San Juan basketball teams look to make waves in tournaments
The San Juan High School girls basketball team closed out the 2020-21 regular season with two key Region 12 matchups, at home against Grand on Tuesday, February 9 and in Price against Carbon Thursday, February 11.
Entering the week, the Lady Broncos were ranked #11 in the 3A RPI standings, and they needed at least one win to secure a first-round bye in the state tournament.
In the first matchup of the week, the girls welcomed the Lady Red Devils to the San Juan gym looking to sweep the season series with their rivals and break a seven-game losing streak.
The Lady Broncos won the teams’ first meeting 67-39 in Moab on January 7, and that was the last time the girls had tasted victory.
From the opening tip, it was clear San Juan had come to play. They put together their best first half of the year, shooting the lights out for 24 points in the first quarter and another 20 in the second.
The Lady Broncos almost couldn’t miss a shot. They hit six three-point baskets in the half as well, and led at the half 44-19. If they kept it up, they were on pace for an 88-38 win.
But it was a tale of two halves. San Juan Head Coach Laura Stearns later said the girls got overconfident and stopped playing the right way in the second half.
Indeed, they struggled to make shots and play defense, and allowed Grand to rally and win the third quarter 17-7, trimming the San Juan lead to 51-36.
Thankfully the Lady Broncos got it back together and matched the Lady Red Devils 12-12 in the final frame to close out a big region win 63-48. The victory ensured the girls would not face a play-in game in the first round of the state tournament.
Four Lady Broncos hit double-digit scoring in the game, including Quiana Dishface with 18, Sadie Brown with 11, Heyleigh Warren with ten, and Kaitlynne Perkins with ten.
Makaeli Begaye added eight points to the scoring total, Emilie Palmer got four, and Serina Yanito scored two. Warren and Perkins got two treys on the night while Brown and Begaye hit one apiece.
Two nights later San Juan hit the road for the 190-mile trip north to Price to take on the number three team in the state, the Carbon Lady Dinos in the final game of the regular season.
In the teams’ first meeting in Blanding January 19, Carbon freshman phenom Madi Orth led the Lady Dinos to a 55-35 blowout win over the Lady Broncos.
She was even more impressive this time, scoring 27 points to lead Carbon to a 60-25 win over San Juan in front of a home crowd. The Lady Broncos never gave up, but struggled to keep pace, falling behind by six after one quarter, 15 after two, and 29 after three.
Emilie Palmer led the San Juan scoring effort with 11 points. Sadie Brown and Makaeli Begaye got five apiece, and Quiana Dishface added four in the loss.
It was a tough finish for the Lady Broncos, but they will still enjoy a first-round bye as they prepare for their second-round state tournament matchup.
With a 6-14 overall record the girls earned the 11th spot in the RPI standings and will face the #6 Judge Memorial Lady Bulldogs in Salt Lake City this Saturday, February 20 at 2:30 p.m.
You can watch the game live online at judgememorial.com/apps/pages/girls-basketball. The winner heads into the state quarterfinals in Richfield next Thursday, February 25 most likely to face #3 Grantsville.
It was a light week for the San Juan boys to conclude their regular season, with just one Region 12 matchup against Carbon at home Friday, February 12.
The Broncos were looking to avenge their 78-69 loss to the Dinos on January 20 in Price. But when Carbon opened a 4-0 lead on San Juan to begin the game, it looked like San Juan was in for a long night.
That’s when the Broncos exploded to outscore the Dinos 20-6 for the remainder of the quarter. Carbon rallied to win the second quarter 16-13, but San Juan still led 33-26 at the half.
The teams matched each other with 14 points each in the third quarter, and San Juan put together a strong 13-9 fourth quarter to close out a 60-49 win.
Nate Grover led the Bronco scoring with 21 points. Cooper Black scored 14, Ladd Ivins and Jensen Grover added seven apiece, Jace Palmer got six, and Jayden Black scored five.
The real story in the game was the Broncos’ team play. When one player lost the ball or missed a shot, a teammate was immediately on hand to pick up the slack.
Ten of Grover’s 21 points came on second chances in the game, and that’s the epitome of the last two weeks of the season for San Juan.
The Broncos won four straight to close out the regular season and they’ve won six of their last seven headed into the state tournament this week.
San Juan Head Coach Travis Black was clearly proud of his boys following the win over Carbon and excited that they are peaking at just the right time, building important momentum headed into the postseason.
The Broncos end the regular season with a 15-7 record, earning fifth place in the 3A RPI standings. They skip past the first round of the state tournament and will host Summit Academy in the second round this Friday, February 19.
Tip’s set for 7 p.m. in the SJHS gymnasium, and you can catch all the action live on PictureItPalmer.com starting at 6:30.
A San Juan win would likely set up a southeastern Utah state quarterfinal rematch between the Broncos and #4 Grand County Red Devils in Richfield on February 25.