Barring an unlikely turn of events, the Grantsville boys basketball team can plan on being in Heber for the first round of the Class 3A state tournament on Feb. 17.
But all is not well for the Cowboys, who find themselves stumbling to the finish line with three consecutive losses and four defeats in their past five games. Grantsville’s latest setback came Friday night at home, where the Cowboys were outscored 33-17 in the second half of a 60-39 loss to Morgan.
It was a result that has become all too familiar for Grantsville coach Bryan Detweiler, whose team has been beaten by at least 11 points in each of its past three games.
“Bad turnovers, bad shots — bad offense,” Detweiler said. “It just compounded, they started scoring and we couldn’t catch up.”
The Cowboys (12-9, 2-4 Region 13) kept the game reasonably close in the first half, cutting an early 11-point Trojans advantage to five by halftime. Grantsville’s defense, which has struggled at times this season, limited the top-ranked Trojans (18-2, 7-0) to just 27 points over the first 16 minutes, repeatedly forcing Morgan into ill-advised passes and contested shots from long range.
That went away in the second half. The Trojans opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run, with only a basket by Grantsville’s Dylan Defa interrupting Morgan’s barrage of easy buckets. By the time Cowboys reserve guard Izaiah Sanders drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:31 left in the quarter, Grantsville found itself trailing 40-27.
Poor shot selection kept the Cowboys from making any sort of comeback, while Morgan simply didn’t miss many shots at the other end as it continued to stretch the lead with a 12-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter. By the end of the game, both teams had emptied their benches, merely playing out the final minutes of a contest that had long since gotten out of hand.
“I think we need to start sharing the basketball and attacking the basket, and keep the defensive intensity the way it was in the first half,” Detweiler said.
Kevin Roberts had eight points to lead Grantsville. Defa added seven, Ryan Potter had six, Jackson Sandberg had five and Coy Johnson had four. Sanders chipped in three points, Isaac Riding and Brady Arbon each had two and Jake Hammond and Ammon Bartley scored one each.
Tyson Hurd had a game-high 13 points for the Trojans, who drained eight 3-pointers as a team. Cade Russell, Kaleb Calderwood and Laine Carter each scored 11 points for Morgan.
Grantsville’s playoff hopes got a boost when Judge Memorial lost its game against South Summit on Friday night. The Cowboys will officially clinch a postseason berth by beating either Judge Memorial on Wednesday or Summit Academy on Friday, or if Judge Memorial loses its season finale to Morgan on Friday. Judge Memorial currently sits at 0-6 in Region 13 play.
While the Cowboys’ postseason prospects remain promising, Detweiler certainly would rather not see his team back into the state tournament.
“It’d be nice to be playing some decent basketball,” Detweiler said.