High school boys basketball: Rich Rebels rely on secret weapon to win games — friendship
RICHFIELD — It isn't just talent and hard work that are responsible for the Rich High basketball team's success this season.
"We give each other hugs," said senior Austin Groll, a smile spreading across his face, after the fourth-ranked Rebels defeated the fifth-ranked Tintic Miners 56-41 in Thursday's 1A quarterfinals at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. "We're team-oriented. It's not just one person who takes over. It's multiple people helping out. It's just our personalities. ... That's the difference."
Groll can't remember a season when players showed their support and affection for each other so openly — and even in the face of problems or mistakes. In past years, he said, the team had stars who would take over or be relied on to carry the team when a game got tight.
"Now we all just rely on each other," he said.
That attitude showed up on the stat sheet Thursday as the team earned 13 assists in the win over Tintic. Groll finished with eight points, three assists and two steals, while McKay Jarman led the team with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
The Rebels led the entire game, something Groll said he didn't expect.
"I thought it would be a nip-and-tuck game, maybe two or three points difference," Groll said. "I still felt like we were just battling."
Rich coach Ashley Brown said the Rebels gained a lot of confidence in their win over Piute in the first round of the tournament.
"We're playing well right now, and the kids have a lot of confidence," he said. "They're just a good bunch of young men. They don't care who scores."
Senior John Acree agrees with Groll and Brown that the Rebels' strength is their unity.
"We're a team," said Acree, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals. "We're not about individuals; we share the ball. That's what makes us so strong."
The Miners were led by McKade Holman and Travis Green, both of whom scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Clint Peterson added six points, while Taylor Hurst finished with six points and a steal.
The loss sends the Tinitc, Region 18's champion, into consolation play, while the win means Rich, the Region 21 champ, will play Bryce Valley in Friday's semifinal round.
In the other semifinal game, Monticello will meet Duchesne.
DUCHESNE 52, PANGUITCH 45: The Eagles upset Region 20's top seed behind Braxton Spencer's 13 points, four assists and two steals and McKade Nielsen's 13 points and seven rebounds. Trent Roberts added 12 points and four rebounds in the win. Tyce Barney led the Bobcats with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Dalan Bennett added 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.
MONTICELLO 55, TABIONA 47: The Buckaroos were led by Jake Duncan, who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while teammate Tanner Eardley added 12 points and three assists. The Tigers were led by Demont Nay, who scored a game-high 28 points.
In consolation play:
PIUTE 66, GREEN RIVER 50: The T-birds were led by JJ Ramos, who scored 16 points in the win. Adrian Escalante led the Pirates with 15 points.
LEGACY PREP 67, ROCKWELL 49: The Lions were led by Hunter Harmer, who finished with 16 points. The Marshals were led by Preson Hanson in the loss.
WAYNE 72, ST. JOSEPH 62: The Badgers were led by Ty Rees, who scored 33 points, while Zach Johnstun led the Jayhawks with 27 points.
LAYTON CHRISTIAN 83, PINNACLE 27: The Eagles were led by Duce Namazi, who scored 21 points in the win. The Panthers were led by Jake Hardy, who finished with nine points.