San Juan gets inspiring semifinal upset over number one Grantsville

The Broncos’ sixth-straight win, over Grand in the state quarterfinals, earned them a berth into the state semifinals for the first time since 2011, where they would face the number one team in the state – the Grantsville Cowboys.

San Juan lost on the road to Grantsville 52-43 on December 30, but they were missing a couple players in that game.

The Cowboys were facing the full-strength and surging Broncos in the semifinals on Friday, February 26.

San Juan was stymied in the first half. Grantsville didn’t give them much room to shoot, the long-ball was virtually non-existent, and the Cowboys just seemed to have their number.

Early in the game, when the Broncos were down 6-1 and languishing with no field goals, Jayden Black came off the bench to provide a much-needed offensive spark, scoring their first three buckets from the floor and eight points.

San Juan was just ten of 21 shooting in the first half and one of three from beyond the arc. Foul shooting was a miss also at just three of eight. Grantsville won the first quarter 13-11 and the second 17-13 to take a 30-24 lead into the break.

The Cowboys came into the second half ready to shut down the upstarts from Blanding and earn a trip to the state championship game that they felt rightfully belonged to them.

But, like they had all season, San Juan simply would not allow that to happen.

The 2020-21 Bronco basketball team just had zero quit in their bodies. They were defined by the phrase, “never say die.”

Speaking after the season, Coach Black surmised they played from behind way too often this year. In their defense, they did it very effectively and it sure was fun to watch.

Like they had all year, the Broncos returned to the Sevier Valley Center floor in the second half to do some comeback combat. They rallied to outscore Grantsville 13-10 in the third quarter and were within three points headed into the final frame.

San Juan continued to battle in the fourth quarter, inching closer and closer to the Cowboys until, finally, they tied the game 43-43 with 5:13 to go on a beautiful backdoor cut from Jensen Grover.

But Grantsville bounced back immediately to regain a four-point lead, which they held until one minute remained. That’s when Cooper Black drained an NBA-distance three to pull the Broncos to within one point 49-48.

With 23 seconds left, Ivins spotted Grover on another backdoor cut and hit him with a perfect pass from the right wing. Grover got the roll on the layup and amazingly the Broncos had their first lead of the game.

Then the San Juan defense went to work. They never allowed Grantsville another good shot opportunity, and with the help of two missed Cowboy free throws, they secured a 51-49 upset of the top-ranked team and shocked the 3A basketball world.

The Broncos’ shooting improved in the second half, and they finished the game 19 of 38 for 50 percent.

They only scored three treys in the game, but unlike the quarterfinal matchup with Grand, they didn’t need the long-ball for the win. Still, they shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.

And they overcame a cool night from the free throw line in the win. They were 10 of 23 for 44 percent against Grantsville.

Cooper Black had his best night of the tournament, leading Bronco scoring with 16 points. Three players hit for eight points apiece: Jace Palmer, Jensen Grover, and Jayden Black. Nate Grover gave San Juan six points on the night and Ladd Ivins had five.

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