At the Mustangs Classic Tournament in Blanding on Feb. 22, the GCMS eighth-graders defeated Whitehorse in their first pool play game, 57-31, as Alec Williams scored 15 and Masen Ward added 10 points. The T-Birds then defeated Monticello 48-33.
Josh Jones had 12 points to lead all scorers, Yanito said. In the third and final pool play game against the host team Blanding Mustangs, the Mustangs prevailed, 49-33, despite 13 points from Jones.
“The game was physical right from the start, as both teams were undefeated and playing for the No. 1 seed in the tournament,” Yanito said. “They got the early lead from the tipoff; we were playing behind the whole game. Our shots weren’t falling, and [the Thunderbirds] had too many turnovers. We just couldn’t get anything started.”
The T-Birds then defeated Monticello again in the tournament round, 55-37, which set up a rematch with Blanding. The game was close, but the Thunderbirds beat the Mustangs 52-47 to win the rematch and the tournament.
“These rival games get more intense by the year,” Yanito said. “I was happy for the boys in their hard work they put in, all in one day.”
The T-Birds seventh and eighth-grade teams later traveled to play in a tournament in Richfield on March 14 and 15.
In pool play, the T-Bird seventh-graders lost to South Sevier, 47-39, giving the team its first loss of the season. The GCMS seventh-graders then bounced back to defeat Altamont 53-28. Meanwhile, the GCMS eighth-grade boys had also two pool play games at Richfield. In the first contest, Grand beat Gunnison 49-37. The T-Birds’ Ward led all scorers with 16 points.
The GCMS eighth-graders then beat Manti 49-39, as Williams and Jones each scored 11.
The two wins gave the GCMS eighth-grade boys the No. 1 seed in the tournament, while the seventh-graders had the No. 3 seed and drew Emery in the first round. Emery ultimately handed the seventh-grade T-Birds their second loss of the season.
“We didn’t get a lot of help from the officials, which took us out of our rhythm, and we never got back in the game,” Yanito said.
In their tournament play at Richfield, the GCMS eight-grade boys defeated Juab, after which the T-Birds beat a tough North Sanpete squad by the score of 48-39 to advance to the championship game against South Sevier. However, the T-Birds lost that contest to the Rams by the score of 35-26.
“It was a defensive battle, but the game before had taken a lot out of us,” Yanito said. “We were exhausted.”
“Our boys all played very well, and we had a lot of complements from other coaches, spectators as well as the tournament directors,” Yanito added.
Next up for the GCMS Thunderbirds is a tournament in Glenwood Springs, Colo., on March 22 and 23.