San Juan boys split Region 12 home-and-home with rival Grand

Entering the final two weeks of the 2020-21 high school basketball regular season the San Juan boys basketball team was 11-7 on the year, ranked seventh in the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) RPI standings.

The top 13 teams receive a first-round bye when the 3A state tournament begins on February 16, so the Broncos are comfortably within that range.

It’s unlikely they’ll drop out despite four challenging Region 12 games to close out the season against Emery, Richfield, South Sevier, and Carbon.

For the girls, it’s a slightly more precarious scenario. They came into the week in the #11 spot with a 5-10 overall record.

The Lady Broncos will face the same four region opponents down the homestretch as the boys, with an additional non-region matchup against Grand County on February 9.

The past week was light for the teams, with just two games for the boys against the rival Red Devils Wednesday, January 27 in Blanding and Friday, January 29 in Moab.

It would have been a Grand County trifecta, but the girls game against their rivals originally scheduled for Thursday, January 28 was postponed due to COVID-19 quarantine for the Lady Red Devils.

The boys’ games against Grand were highly-anticipated, with the Red Devils coming into the contest ranked #2 in the state possessing a 15-1 record. San Juan was 10-6 ranked #8.

The games most definitely did not disappoint, featuring fast up-and-down action, physicality, and strong shooting.

In Blanding on January 27, the Broncos scored 17 points in each of the first three quarters and Grand kept pace, scoring 16 in the first, 16 in the second, and 17 in the third.

Headed into the final period San Juan held a slim 51-49 lead, but that’s when the Broncos caught fire. They poured in an impressive 25 points in the fourth quarter while holding the Red Devils to only 11 to topple their rivals 76-60.

Jace Palmer scored 20 points in one of his best performances of the season to lead the Bronco scoring attack. He hit three three-point baskets in the win.

Jayden Black also put together one of his best nights of the year with 15 points and two threes. Ladd Ivins and Nate Grover both got 13 points with Ivins draining a three.

Cooper Black added nine points for San Juan, Jensen Grover had four, and Bronson Snyder returned from injury to round out the scoring with two.

One area Bronco head coach Travis Black said his team needed to improve was rebounding. Grand out-boarded San Juan 33-26 on the night. The Broncos did win the turnover battle though, 16-22.

As they have all season the Seely-Roberts brothers, who transferred from Oregon to play with the Red Devils for a season, accounted for more than half of the Grand offense in Blanding. Though San Juan was able to hold Malachi to 12 points, his brother, Moroni, scored 23.

The Broncos knew they would have a challenge when they traveled to Moab just two nights later to conclude the season series with a Grand team looking to avenge their loss in Blanding.

The similarity between the two games was clear. Again they battled back and forth for three quarters, though the Red Devils held the advantage most of the time.

Grand led 20-17 after one, but San Juan won the next two quarters 16-14 and 22-21 and the game was tied 55-55 headed into the final frame.

Just like the Broncos did on their home court two nights earlier, the Red Devils did on their own floor, doubling San Juan up 30-14 in the fourth quarter to leave their rivals in the dust and split the season series with an 85-69 win.

This time the Seely-Roberts brothers were too much for the San Juan defense. They exploded for 49 combined points, 27 for Moroni and 22 for Malachi. Chance Arbon came off the bench to add 14 points in the Grand victory.

Nate Grover led San Juan this time with 19 points. Ladd Ivins scored 15, Jace Palmer got 14, Jayden Black had eight, Cooper Black scored six, Jensen Grover added four, and Preston Imlay rounded out the Bronco scoring with three.

San Juan shot just 37 percent from the floor in the game while Grand mustered a 48-percent night. Though the Broncos improved in the rebounding game, the Red Devils still edged them 41-40. And San Juan turned the ball over 19 times to Grand’s 11.

The stage is set for an exciting two-week regular season conclusion with both San Juan squads set for key Region 12 matchups.

By the time you read this article, the girls will have already opened this week’s action against the Emery Lady Spartans on Tuesday, February 2.

They hit the road over the weekend to take on Richfield and South Sevier Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6.

The boys are in Castle Dale Wednesday, February 7 against the Emery Spartans, then they’ll come home to host Richfield and South Sevier Friday and Saturday.

You’ll have plenty of opportunity to see and hear the boys games even if you can’t attend in person.

Redrock 92 Radio and will broadcast all three with tip times set for 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and 4:30 on Saturday.

San Juan Record

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Monticello, UT 84535

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