In Friday’s contest, South Sevier jumped out to a 17-11 lead in the first quarter, but the Red Devils outscored the Rams 16-6 in the second period to take a 27-23 halftime lead. The second half stayed close the whole way, with the Rams sinking a barrage of 3-pointers and the Red Devils hitting key field goals and free throws down the stretch to maintain a slim lead.
With around 15 seconds left in the game, Grand was ahead 56-55, but the Rams had possession of the ball. After a few seconds ticked off on the inbounds play, Grand guard Adam Jenkinson committed a deliberate foul, as the Red Devils were still not in a one-and-one penalty free throw situation and could afford to foul. Timeout was called, and GCHS head coach Brook Shumway said he and his players anticipated that South Sevier would try essentially the same play on the ensuing inbounds attempt.
“We fouled them because wanted to make them waste time, but we also adjusted our defense just a little during the timeout, hoping we could at least prevent them from getting a shot,” said Shumway.
On the Rams’ second pass after inbounding the ball, Grand’s Hunter Stitzer stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it. He was fouled almost immediately by the Rams, and went to the other end of the court to shoot a one-and-one free throw. Stitzer calmly swished both shots, giving the Red Devils a much more comfortable three-point edge. South Sevier’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer clanged off the back rim, and Grand escaped with the nail-biting 58-55 victory.
“Our defense finally has started coming around,” said Shumway, who noted that the Red Devils also successfully converted all eight free throw attempts during the fourth quarter, including six by Trevor Bertuzzi. “That was a deciding factor. Trevor stepped up big time.”
The Red Devils were led in scoring by Kaden Risenhoover, who made 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Bertuzzi added 13 points, Jenkinson scored 10, and Stitzer made nine.
The Rams were led by Bo Gentry, who scored 17 points and hit five of South Sevier’s 10 3-point shots made during the game.
Against North Sevier on Saturday afternoon, the Red Devils got off to a somewhat slow start, which Shumway said was expected after the previous night’s excitement.
“We came out kind of flat, and our shots were off,” Shumway said.
Nevertheless, Grand managed to take a 23-16 lead at the half. North Sevier came back to outscore Grand 18-12 during the third quarter, which ended with the Red Devils barely ahead, 35-34.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with the Wolves dropping in multiple 3-pointers – North Sevier made seven 3-pointers during the game. However, Risenhoover answered with a timely trey of his own late in the fourth quarter that put the Red Devils ahead for good. Stitzer iced the game with a free throw to put Grand up by six during the final minute, and the Red Devils prevailed 52-46.
“We didn’t attack the rim and get to the free throw line like we should have,” said Shumway. “But we played just good enough to win.”
Bertuzzi led the Red Devils with 16 points against the Wolves, while Koi Cook added 13 and Stitzer scored 10.
“We’re starting to believe in ourselves,” said coach Shumway. “We’re playing to win instead of to not lose.”
The Red Devils – now 8-4 overall, 3-1 in Region 15 – are scheduled to play three games this week. They’ll travel to Emery on Wednesday, Jan. 29 and will play top-ranked Wasatch Academy at Moab on Friday, Jan. 31. Both are region contests. Grand will then travel to Green River for a non-region game on Saturday, Feb. 1.