Broncos cruise through second round, set sights on 2A state title

by Rhett Sifford
Sports Editor

The San Juan High School boys basketball team began their quest for a 2A state championship with a fairly easy 51-37 second-round win over Beaver in the San Juan gym this past Saturday, February 19.

The win gives the Broncos their third-straight trip to the state quarterfinals, where they’ll face the #8 Rockwell Marshals at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield this Thursday, February 24 at 12:50 p.m.

Fourteen of the Beavers’ points came in the fourth quarter after the Broncos’ starters were off the court. San Juan held their opponents to just 17 points in the first three quarters combined.

The Broncos haven’t been offensively overwhelming this season, but when their defense and rebounding are in gear – as they were on Saturday – they have been very tough to beat.

San Juan out-rebounded Beaver 46-24, including an impressive 19 rebounds. The strong rebounding led to 18 second-chance points while the Beavers scored none.

It was without a doubt a major factor in the win, and the Broncos will have to play the same way in Richfield to experience success in the later rounds of the state tourney.

San Juan wasn’t stunning offensively, shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three-point distance. But they were a solid 12 of 15 from the free throw line for 80 percent.

A good sign for the Broncos is that the players are finding each other and moving the ball well. Against Beaver, Jensen Grover and Ladd Ivins co-led the team with four helpers apiece.

Another good sign is that players other than leading scorer Ivins are beginning to step up and get points for San Juan. Ivins was actually the fourth-highest scorer in the win Saturday.

Grover led with 14 points, Cooper Black scored 13, and Jayden Black got ten. Ivins added seven, Jace Palmer and Collin Baker both scored five, and Preston Imlay rounded out Bronco scoring with three.

Palmer pulled down an impressive 14 rebounds in the game, Cooper Black got ten, Grover had seven, and Ivins added six.

Following the win, Bronco Head Coach Travis Black said he likes the confidence his players are showing headed into the state quarterfinals.

He and the players are looking for three more wins that will earn them a state championship. They know that it only gets harder from here on out.

“Last year we were underdogs, but this year it’s been a completely different mentality,” Black explained. “With that target on our back we expect everyone to bring us their best.”

The Broncos will have to be ready to go when they arrive in Richfield this Thursday. They have played well when leading this season but have struggled playing from behind.

Coach Black said a big focus for the remainder of the season will be to open with strong first quarters. “That starts with great defense, running the floor, getting good looks, getting to the line and hitting free throws and layups.”

San Juan has these fundamentals in place. They have a lot of floor experience at the Sevier Valley Center. It will come down to execution in the final three rounds of the tournament.

It’s going to be a fun tournament to be sure. There are a number of strong contenders for the 2A state title and it won’t be a walk in the park for anyone, be it Enterprise, Rowland Hall, Parowan, South Sevier, Millard, or San Juan.

As previously stated, the Broncos tip it off against #8 Rockwell in the 2A Utah State quarterfinals this Thursday, February 24 at 12:50 p.m.

The Marshals are 17-6 on the season and they’ll be a tough matchup. The two teams have one common opponent this season – American Heritage.

Rockwell lost both regular season games to the Patriots, but beat them 62-58 in the second round of the state tournament this past weekend. The Broncos beat American Heritage by 12 on December 10.

Redrock 92 Radio will feature complete live coverage of the entire San Juan state title bid live Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the pregame of Thursday’s game at approximately 12:30.

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