RICHFIELD — San Juan High is known as a powerhouse in sports such as football and baseball, but has yet to achieve elite status on the basketball court.
The Broncos, with a 67-52 win over Region 13 champion Parowan in the 2A quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon, advanced to the semis for the first time since 1998. Their game against the Rams was their first quarterfinal berth in nine seasons.
It's been a long time coming for San Juan's basketball program.
"Finally," said San Juan senior Cameron Shumway. "It's about time. It's good to make it to the top four for once."
It might not be where the Broncos stop.
San Juan, winners of 12 of its last 14 games and the only team to beat top-ranked South Sevier this season, showed it has what it takes to keep advancing in its win over Parowan. The Broncos played stifling defense on the high-scoring Rams, making them work for everything they got. Parowan shot 39.7 percent.
"We played great defense the whole game," said San Juan coach Wade Mortensen.
The game was close in the first half and for the first couple of minutes of the third quarter, and that was partially due to San Juan's mistakes. The Broncos committed 11 turnovers before halftime, and scored just seven points in the second quarter.
San Juan never relinquished the lead after Tyler Nielson sank a 3-pointer to make it 33-30. The Broncos gradually pulled away from there, leading 44-37 at the end of the third before pouring it on in the fourth quarter.
San Juan put some distance between it and Parowan because it stopped playing sloppily on offense. The Broncos had just four turnovers in the second half.
"We just took care of the ball, made good passes, finished shots," Mortensen said.
Shumway led the Broncos with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He had three assists, and made some dazzling no-look passes that kept the Rams off balance. Nielson had 17 points, and A.J. Slavens had 14 points.
For Shumway, a football star who puts in as much time into playing on the hardwood as he does the gridiron, the win was satisfying. He's been bothered by San Juan's lack of success in basketball, and says part of the reason for it is because of how much the Broncos put into football.
"We definitely put our time in the gym in the offseason," Shumway said "A lot of those guys — me included — didn't touch a (basketball) for four months during football, which is tough to do. We'll be playing our best ball during the summer sometimes and we have to drop it and go to football. It's understandable."
The time committed to playing football has paid off in state championships. A basketball title may be next.
"We've had some dang good players," Shumway said. "This is the best team we've had together in my four years here."
The Broncos face reigning 2A champion South Summit in the semifinals on Friday. San Juan hasn't forgotten that the Wildcats eliminated it in the first round last year.
"They're tough," Mortensen said. "They'll be the best man defensive team we've played all year. It'll be a fun challenge."
MILLARD 40, NORTH SEVIER 35:Joel Swallow had 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots as the Eagles avenged a loss to the Wolves in the preseason and advanced to the 2A semifinals. Millard led 31-20 early in the fourth, and had to hold on after the Wolves scored nine straight points. North Sevier's Austin Clard led all scorers with 16 points.1 comment on this story
SOUTH SEVIER 59, NORTH SUMMIT 27: The Rams opened the game on a 19-4 run and coasted to a win in the 2A semifinals. Race Parsons had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Winn had 16 points, five rebounds and three steals.
SOUTH SUMMIT 54, MAESER PREP 24: After toying with the Lions for the first three quarters, the Wildcats put the game away with a 19-2 run in the fourth quarter. Parker Anderson had 19 points and five rebounds to lead South Summit, which beat Maeser Prep by at least 30 points for the third time this season.