It has been a special season for the Grantsville boys basketball team already, and the postseason hasn’t even started yet.
It seems all the Cowboys do is win, and it doesn’t matter what they have to do or who has to do it. On Friday at Grantsville High School, sophomore guard Brigham Mulford came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers, draw a charge and get fouled while attempting another 3 — all within a span of just over two minutes — to spark GHS to a 50-42 win over South Summit that clinched at least a share of the Cowboys’ first region championship since 2017.
“I’m proud of my boys and proud of our team for finding a way to pull out a win,” Grantsville coach Nate Austin said.
The Cowboys (14-1, 8-0 Region 13) finished the first quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 14-6 lead, but they faced a bit of adversity during that surge. Senior guard Tuhker Mulford, who was coming off a 5-for-5 performance from 3-point range in Grantsville’s previous outing against Morgan, was 2-for-8 from long distance on Friday, and center Davin Ekins went to the bench late in the first quarter after picking up his second foul on a moving screen.
With its two top scorers on the bench, Grantsville needed someone to step up. Enter the younger Mulford, who despite standing just 5-foot-5, played a huge role in giving the Cowboys just the boost they needed.
“He’s a small player, but he’s got a huge heart,” Austin said. “His potential is outrageous and his skill level is through the roof. He could probably start on a lot of teams throughout the state. He’s a guy who has to stay ready, not knowing when his number’s going to be called. We don’t win that game without Brigham Mulford.”
Brigham Mulford knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, and took a pass from Tuhker Mulford before draining another 3 from the left wing on Grantsville’s first possession of the second quarter to put the Cowboys up 17-8. Then, he stepped in front of South Summit’s Payton Sanderson to draw an offensive foul, and Tuhker Mulford hit a 3 from the left wing to extend the lead to 12.
That early spark proved to be valuable, as the Wildcats (5-13, 1-7) held Grantsville without a field goal for the next 3:32 as part of a 9-3 run to close out the first half. Early in the third quarter, South Summit closed to within three points after an and-one by Daniel Peterson and a 3-pointer from the right wing by Payton Sanderson cut the Cowboys’ lead to 28-25.
Grantsville regained some momentum as the quarter went along, putting together an 8-2 run over a span of 2:42 to pull ahead 36-27. A driving layup by Tate Allred and a baseline drive by Carter Killian opened the run, and Ekins added a pair of layups, though there were also missed opportunities as the Cowboys went 0-for-3 from the free-throw line.
That allowed South Summit to stay close, as the Wildcats cut the lead back down to four points by the end of the third quarter, thanks to a basket by Brigham Skinner and a corner 3-pointer by Kyler Sudweeks.
“They’re really well-coached,” Austin said of South Summit. “They do a really good job of scouting and game-planning, and those kids played really hard. We’ve got to give credit to South Summit and what they did. It wasn’t our best shooting game or our prettiest game by any stretch, but it’s hard to get wins this time of year.”
Free throws weren’t a problem for the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, as Grantsville went 12-of-15 (80%) from the foul line over the final eight minutes to keep the Wildcats from rallying. That included a perfect 3-for-3 trip to the charity stripe for Tuhker Mulford after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt, and 2-for-2 trips by Ekins and Killian after South Summit cut the lead to five points on a pair of occasions in the final five minutes.
Ekins led all scorers with 21 points for Grantsville, including an 8-of-9 effort from the field. He also has seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Tuhker Mulford had 13 points and four assists, and Brigham Mulford added seven points. Killian had six points, five rebounds and three steals and Allred had three points. Grantsville shot 50% from the field (16-of-32), but just 14-of-25 (56%) from the free-throw line.
Sanderson had 12 points for South Summit. Dawson Broadbent had eight points and Kevin Timothy added seven.
Grantsville will play its final home game of the regular season Wednesday night against Summit Academy. The regular-season finale is Friday in Salt Lake City against Judge Memorial.
“I think we’re staying hungry, and that’s the challenge this time of year,” Austin said. “Anyone can beat anybody this time of year. It’s hard to win region games and it’s hard to beat teams twice. Any win this time of year is a good win.”