San Juan boys bball team drops two on road
by Rhett Sifford
It’s always tough to lose not only all your starters from a previous season, but your head coach as well. Having that happen twice increases the challenge.
That’s what the San Juan High School boys basketball team faced in the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season. The Broncos continue to battle but it continues to be a steady uphill climb.
After a tough trip north to American Fork this past weekend for games against American Heritage and American Leadership Academy they’re 2-4 on the season.
On Friday, December 9 San Juan fell behind American Heritage early and were never able to get back in the game, falling 83-50.
Saturday, December 10 the Broncos faced American Leadership in the American Heritage gym. Though it was a closer contest San Juan continued to struggle turning the ball over and committing fouls, ultimately suffering a 75-63 loss.
Through the first six games of the season Collin Baker is the team’s leading scorer with 52 points, an average of 8.7 per game. RJ Dalley, who’s having a breakout season, has scored 46 to average 7.7.
Anthony Done has 43 points (7.2 ppg) so far, Garrett Young has 41 (6.8 ppg), and Ian Johnson has scored 33 (5.5 ppg).
The Broncos will be busy in the week leading up to the Christmas break with three games on the schedule.
They host Grand County in their home opener this Wednesday, December 14 at 7 p.m. That one will be broadcast live on Redrock 92 Radio with streaming video at pictureitpalmer.com starting at 6:30.
The team heads to Bayfield, CO this Saturday, December 17 to join forces with the girls. Then they’ll play the annual pre-Christmas rivalry matchup with Monticello in Monticello on Tuesday, December 20 with a live broadcast also starting at 6:30 on that one.
Recently the new head coach of the Broncos, Jeff Johnson spoke with the San Juan Record via email, answering several early-season questions. Here is what he had to say:
SJ Record: First of all, can you tell us about your basketball coaching history?
Jeff Johnson: I got started with my oldest son and his age group of kids doing a traveling team around 2012 and took them all around for tournaments until they got into high school. Then I took my younger son and his grade (this year’s seniors) and did some travel ball with them also. I guess it was the 2018-2019 season that Coach Travis Black became head coach at the high school and I have been there since then.
SJR: What is your coaching philosophy?
JJ: I think that can change depending on what personnel you have, but as a general rule I want to play an aggressive style of defense and be able to switch to multiple different defenses and presses. Offensively keeping the court spaced with a motion offense is a staple we will always go to.
SJR: Tell us about your assistant coaches.
JJ: This year we have Mike Brown in his second season at the high school coaching the JV team, Ryan Palmer in his first year coaching the C-team, and Easton Nielson as another assistant in his third year.
SJR: Talk about your team this season.
JJ: So far we have had an up-and-down start to the season. Through the first games we’ve been inconsistent with our play (that’s fairly normal this early). We have had times when we looked like a team that can compete with anyone in 2A and times I’m not sure we could beat our eighth-grade team.
SJR: What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the season?
JJ: We got off to a late start due to the majority of our team being involved in winning another state championship in football. Because of that and our first-week coaching change we are still working hard at finding our rhythm and right lineups that will give us the best chance to succeed. I feel right now we are in a good spot over the next couple weeks before the Christmas break to really start to gel and get some momentum in the right direction.
SJR: With your players lacking varsity game experience, how are you working to prepare them, and is it just a matter of getting in games and getting that time on the court?
JJ: Unfortunately there is no way to prepare for varsity basketball except for actual court time in a varsity game environment. We knew it would be a learning curve and will take some time to see who steps up and handles the different speed that comes at the varsity level. I do know that our team has fighters who will compete and work hard to get better every day.
SJR: Talk about the players who are returning this season.
JJ: With eight seniors who graduated from last year’s team we unfortunately return very little varsity experience. The one positive from that is they got to play against those seniors last year in practice every day. There were many times that they gave last year’s team all they wanted and more in practice. So I know they have it in them to be an excellent team this year.
SJR: What new players are already stepping up?
JJ: Each game we have seen a different kid step up and have a good game. I think that will be a theme for us this year. We don’t have a main guy we look to for scoring so it will need to be a team effort and finding the guy who is hot each game.
SJR: What do you think your strength(s) will be this season?
JJ: I definitely think we can be an elite defensive team. We have the speed and quickness to cause lots of problems for opposing teams’ guards.
SJR: What things do you think you’ll have to work on the most?
JJ: Finding consistency on offense will be big for us. We don’t have any one or two go-to guys. It will take all five on the court to be selfless and find the guy each game who has it going.
SJR: What are your expectations on the season this year?
JJ: I expect the by the time we get to region play that we will have a good rhythm and our rotations set so that we can compete every night with each team in our region.
SJR: What would you like to accomplish as a team?
JJ: Right now our goal is to get better every day. These kids know how to work and are fighters as they proved in football this year. I think if we do that, by the end of the season there is no reason we can’t make another magical run in the state tournament.