San Juan boys sweep week with three key Region 12 victories
It’s coming down to the wire for the San Juan High School basketball teams. Regular seasons come to a close this week with opening games in the 2021 state tournament beginning next week for both teams.
The boys couldn’t have had a better week this past week coming down the homestretch when they put together three key wins over Region 12 opponents.
Entering the week, the Bronco boys were 11-7 on the year ranked #7 in the RPI standings with three key Region 12 matchups on the docket.
They opened the week with a trip to Castle Dale to take on the Emery Spartans Wednesday, February 3. In the teams’ previous meeting in Blanding January 22, it took a buzzer-beating three for San Juan to get a win.
Traditionally, the home team has an advantage competitively, but that wasn’t the case on this night. San Juan roared out of the gate, outscoring the Spartans 28-8 in the first quarter.
Emery did rally to win the second quarter 15-7 to trail 35-23 at the half, but that was as close as they’d get in front of their home crowd. The teams matched each other 29-29 in the second half as San Juan maintained their lead and brought home a 74-62 win.
With the final road game of the regular season in the books, the Broncos dug in their heels and prepared for three straight region games at home to close out the year.
For the first half against Richfield on Friday, February 5, it looked almost exactly like the teams’ meeting three weeks earlier in Richfield. Dynamic duo Max and Will Robinson led the Wildcats to a 12-9 lead after one quarter and a 29-24 lead at the half.
San Juan committed a number of turnovers and missed several close-in shots and it seemed that Richfield would maintain momentum in the second half and close out the Broncos again.
But San Juan was having none of it. The Broncos just kept battling, building third-quarter momentum and outscoring Richfield 14-10.
The score was punctuated by a couple of key buckets late in the period, and the Broncos found themselves tied with the Wildcats 39-39 headed into the final frame after trailing for the entire game.
The teams exchanged blows in the fourth quarter, and San Juan was unable to get over the hump into the lead – until there were just two minutes left in the game.
Once the Broncos got the lead, they never relinquished it. They were able to protect the ball and force Richfield to foul, and they made the most of their foul shot opportunities.
The Wildcats didn’t bow out quietly though. San Juan had to withstand a late rally and hold on for an impressive 53-52 win in front of a loud home crowd.
The next night, Saturday, February 6, the boys welcomed South Sevier to town to close out the week. San Juan had beaten the Rams three weeks earlier in Monroe, but South Sevier was coming off an energizing win over Grand the night before.
But from the opening tip, South Sevier was flat and the Broncos were prepared to take care of business. They opened an 18-13 lead in the first quarter, increased it to 31-24 at the half, and blanketed the Rams with a 39-16 second half to win going away 70-40.
The three big Region 12 wins improved San Juan to 14-7 on the year and 6-3 in the region. Most importantly, the Broncos jumped up a couple spots to fifth in the RPI standings and are now firmly in position to receive a first-round bye into the state tournament next week.
In the three wins, San Juan outshot their opponents 48 percent to 41 percent from the floor, but two of the main differences were three-point shooting and rebounding.
The Broncos bested their foes 40 percent to 22 percent from beyond the arc, and out-rebounded them 104-79. They also won the turnover battle 41-43 and scored 37 points off turnovers while allowing only 24.
Ladd Ivins led Bronco scoring for the week with 53 points. Nate Grover got 35, Cooper Black scored 28, Jayden Black added 27, Jensen Grover had 25, Jace Palmer 20, Easton Bethea five, Preston Imlay three, and Bronson Snyder one.
San Juan Head Coach Travis Black said the wins were obviously huge. He said the team is peaking at exactly the right time, which bodes very well as they prepare for the state tournament.
The Broncos will take on the Carbon Dinos in the SJHS gym this Friday, February 12 to close out the regular season. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and it will be broadcast live on Redrock 92.7 FM and PictureItPalmer.com starting at 6:30.
The Lady Broncos faced the same opponents as the boys this past week, but in opposite locations and arriving at opposite results.
On Tuesday, February 2 San Juan hosted Emery and from the opening tip the Lady Spartans had the Lady Broncos’ number.
Emery opened with a 26-9 first-quarter lead, increased it to 44-17 at halftime, and outscored San Juan 38-30 in the second half for a 82-47 win.
Three nights later on Friday, February 5 the Lady Broncos hit the road for a two-day trip to Sevier County to take on Richfield and South Sevier.
On Friday the Lady Wildcats surged out to a 29-6 lead after one quarter, stretched it to 44-8 at the half, and closed out San Juan 65-23 with a 21-15 second half.
The Lady Broncos looked to bounce back on Saturday, February 6 against the Lady Rams in Monroe, and other than a tough 22-5 first quarter, San Juan put up a strong fight.
Trailing by 17 after one, the Lady Broncos rallied to win the remaining three quarters 38-33. But they had spotted South Sevier too many points and fell by a final of 55-43.
San Juan dropped to 5-13 on the year following the losses and 1-7 in Region 12 play. They’ll have to travel for a state play-in game on Wednesday, February 17 with their opponent and location still to be determined.
The girls will close out their regular season with a couple games this week, Tuesday, February 9 in a rescheduled matchup with Grand County in Blanding and Thursday, February 11 in Price against the Carbon Lady Dinos.
Though the Grand game is already in the books by the time you read this, you can catch the Carbon game live on Redrock 92.7 FM and PictureItPalmer.com starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
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