The Grantsville boys basketball team’s recent winning ways are the epitome of “peaking at the right time.”
The Cowboys entered 2020 with a 4-6 record, with an unexpected midseason coaching change adding to the frustrations of an up-and-down start. However, it has been nothing but uphill for Grantsville (13-9) since then, as the Cowboys have been one of the hottest teams in all of Class 3A over the past month and a half with victories in nine of their past 12 games.
That hot streak carried them to a second-place finish in Region 13 — and the only thing separating the Cowboys from the top spot was a pair of losses to Judge Memorial by a combined 10 points. It also includes a 66-46 dismantling of No. 9 American Leadership Academy in the second round of the Class 3A state tournament on Friday in Price, earning GHS the right to face top-seeded Manti in Thursday’s quarterfinal round at 11:10 a.m. at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville.
The Cowboys and Templars have met each other in each of the past three postseasons, with Manti winning the first two meetings — in the 2018 semifinals and 2019 first round. They also met at the Central Utah Basketball Preview in December, as the Templars escaped with a 70-63 victory after a big second-quarter run.
Manti (22-1) hasn’t lost to a Class 3A team all season and is undefeated in 2020, with its lone loss coming to Class 4A Dixie on Dec. 20 in St. George. Since then, each of the Templars’ victories have come by double-figures. Manti boasts a balanced scoring attack with five players averaging 10 points per game or more, led by junior Grady Thompson’s 12.7 points per contest. Kevin Clark (11.7), Conner Christiansen (11.5), Jordan Blauer (11.4) and Travis Thomson (10.1) are the Templars’ other top threats.
Grantsville also has a fairly balanced offense, with Davin Ekins averaging 11.1 points per game and Jackson Sandberg at 10.5. Tuhker Mulford scores 9.0 points per game and leads the Cowboys with 42 3-pointers in 22 games, with Ammon Bartley (7.3 ppg) and Carter Killian (6.8 ppg) adding additional scoring depth.
The winner of Thursday’s game will face either No. 4 Judge Memorial or No. 5 San Juan in a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday, while the Judge/San Juan loser will meet the Manti/Grantsville loser in a consolation bracket contest at 12:50 p.m. Judge is riding a nine-game winning streak into its quarterfinal game, while San Juan has won four in a row and five of its past seven.
San Juan’s high-powered offense is led by Jaxon Torgerson (15.8 ppg, 36 3-pointers), Randall Flavel (13.9 ppg, 8.0 rebounds per game), Shaw Nielson (9.1 ppg, 47 3-pointers) and Ryan Imlay (7.8 ppg, 7.1 rebounds per game).
Deng Mayar is Judge’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. Dom Burns averages 10.6 ppg and Got Daw is at 7.5 ppg.