Grantsville guard Ryan Potter tied a season-high 20 points as the Cowboys beat Park City 74-62 on Thursday.
“He’s been playing a lot tougher, getting to the line,” Grantsville head coach Bryan Detweiler said of his senior guard. “He’s been playing through contact a lot tougher. He’s one of our better free throw shooters.”
The Cowboys made 13 of 16 free throws in the final quarter to hold off a late Park City run and preserve the win.
Park City head coach Michael Doleac said his team needed to fix the little things to earn a win.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball better, be in our spots better,” he said. “We’re young, we’re getting there. I think we lack a little bit of confidence. Grantsville just played a little bit tougher and stronger. They were the more aggressive team; they wore us down.”
Park City (2-5) went on an 8-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull the Grantsville lead back down to 61-56, highlighted by a tough trapping defense in the half-court set.
Sophomore guard Mark McCurdy completed a three-point play to make it an eight-point game with 4:20 left in regulation, then hit a long 2-pointer 14 seconds later. Freshman guard Adam Spink made a 3-point basket with 3:33 left that prompted Detweiler to call timeout with a five-point lead.
“We’ve been working on defense towards a 3-point shooting team, because we have been struggling with that,” Potter said, noting the losses to Cyprus, Emery and Alta, in which the Cowboys gave up a combined 32 shots from beyond the arc.
The Cowboys handled the press better after the timeout as senior guard Dylan Defa scored a layup out of the press-break offense. Grantsville forced a turnover on the ensuing possession to take further control of the momentum. Sophomore forward Jackson Sandberg had two big rebounds in the final three-and-a-half minutes, helping the Cowboys to a 13-3 run during that stretch.
“I’m happy that we won,” Detweiler said. “We’ve got to D-up better. Park City actually came at (our 1-2-2 press) pretty hard today, and that should be our bread and butter.”
McCurdy led all scorers with 22 points, hitting four of Park City’s 10 shots from beyond the arc. Spink chipped in 14 from four more 3s.
Potter’s 20 points ties his season high set in the opener against North Summit on Nov. 21.
“The floor just felt a lot wider today,” Potter said. “I saw a lot more openings. I felt like I could make the seam, and I did.”
Potter went 7 for 8 from the free-throw line. Defa chipped in with a career-high 13 points. Seniors Kevin Roberts and Brady Arbon each scored 12.
Grantsville is now 8-4 on the season after losing to Alta (3-6) on Tuesday, 61-48.
The Cowboys will face Desert Hills (6-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Friday in the third game of the Utah Autism Foundation Holiday Classic, hosted at Olympus High School.
“I think tomorrow is a very good test for us against a very good Desert Hills team,” Detweiler said. “We’ve got work to do tomorrow. We’ve been very close to beating them every single time since I’ve been coaching in Grantsville, but it’s one bad quarter that costs us every time.”
Grantsville will play county-rival Tooele (2-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the same venue.
Author’s note: Tavin Stucki has covered prep sports in Utah for more than nine years. This story was not subject to the approval of the Grantsville basketball program.