by Tad Barton
The San Juan girls basketball team is one of the youngest teams in 2A this season, but on Friday afternoon in Orem, UT you would have never guessed it.
The Lady Broncos played with the poise and calmness of a veteran team down the stretch, first forcing overtime and then pulled off the upset win when sophomore Bodell Nielson hit the game winning three with just over five seconds left in OT to defeat the Wasatch Academy Tigers 58-57.
Wasting no time, San Juan jumped out to a quick lead, outscoring Wasatch Academy 16-9 in the first quarter. The Broncos cooled off just a bit in the second but were able to keep pace with the Tigers who scored 13 points in the quarter to San Juan’s 10.
After one half of play, the Broncos held a four point lead, 26-22.
In the third quarter Wasatch Academy once again outscored San Juan, this time by five points, 17-12, to take a one point lead going into the fourth, 39-38. Every time the Tigers looked as if they were starting to pull away, the pesky Broncos found an answer, ultimately tying the game at 52-52 to force OT.
The score went back and forth in OT with the Tigers taking a two-point lead with under 30 seconds left. A turnover by the Broncos on their next possession looked as if it would spell certain defeat, but San Juan was able to force Wasatch Academy to turn the ball back over to them.
With 15 seconds left and the Broncos struggling to find a shot, Coach Justin Moon called a timeout to give some last instructions to his team.
Whatever he told his team during that timeout worked, as they got the ball to Nielson who had already hit three triples, and with time running out, Nielson hit her fourth, the game winner, as San Juan edged Wasatch Academy 6-5 in OT for the 58-57 win.
Nielson’s 21 points paced San Juan, just ahead of Delaney Palmer’s 19. Madison Palmer also hit the double digit scoring mark with 10 points, followed by Jordyn Moon and Krystelle Noyes who each finished with thee points.
Megan Grover rounded out the scoring for the Broncos with two points in the win.
With the win, San Juan advances to the second round for the 2A State Championships where they will be matched up with Kanab. That game will be played at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield, UT on Thursday, February 23 at 5:45 p.m. Good luck Broncos!
Heading into their first round playoff matchup against Layton Christian Academy, the San Juan boys basketball team was dealt a huge blow when they lost big man Zach Brown just two days before their game against the Eagles.
As if losing one starter wasn’t bad enough, the Broncos lost Jaden Torgerson for the game as well after he sustained an injury on San Juan’s first offensive possession of the game against LCA.
A lot of people would have written the Broncos off completely after losing their second and third leading scorers as well as their top two rebounders. The duo of Brown and Torgerson were averaging a combined 25 points per contest.
Coach Ryan Nielson’s team hardly batted an eye at the hand they were dealt, as a number of younger players came off the bench and played well in a game that was a lot closer than the 81-63 final.
San Juan seemed a bit shell shocked in the first quarter as LCA raced out to an 11-point lead about midway through the first, 13-2.
After a timeout by Coach Nielson, the Broncos calmed down and started playing ball, closing out the quarter with a 13-5 run to cut the Eagle’s lead to three points, 18-15.
San Juan continued to keep pace with LCA throughout the second quarter, but couldn’t overtake the Eagles, who pushed their lead to six points at the half, 33-27.
The Broncos had a big third quarter, scoring 24 points and at one point taking the lead for the first time in the game.
The Eagles answered, though, retaking the lead before the end of the quarter by scoring 21 points in the period to lead San Juan 54-51.
The Broncos fought on in the fourth, keeping LCA within striking distance for the first half of the quarter.
Eventually San Juan just ran out of gas, as the Eagles pulled away down the stretch to claim the 81-63 win.
Jordan Blake was an absolute warrior for San Juan, playing all but 30 seconds of the game and leading the Broncos with 17 points.
Sharp shooter Seth Pugh came off the bench to give San Juan 15 points off of five threes.
Dylan Ivins finished the game with 12 points, and Landon Pemberton, who started for the injured Brown, was the fourth Bronco with double digit scoring with 11 points.
Jaxon Lee chipped in four points, Trez Perkins had three points and Torgerson finished with one point for the Broncos.
After the game, LCA’s head coach, Bobby Porter, mentioned how fortunate his club was due to the injuries of Brown and Torgerson.
“They lost Torgerson, and they lost a big kid before the game too. They had two intricate parts of their team out,” said Porter. “[San Juan] did a great job. The coach, [Ryan Nielson], did a good job. We were lucky.”
The Broncos three seniors, Blake, Lee and Brown, wrap up their high school basketball careers having entertained San Juan fans over the last four years.
The trio have been a part of some thrilling wins, one being their dominant victory on Senior Night over top ranked Emery, 77-69.
Thank you for all your hard work and for taking us on this journey with you. Best wishes to them on the baseball diamond this spring.