High school basketball: Playing for fifth place about more than a trophy for Piute

Published: Saturday, March 8 2014 5:30 p.m. MST

RICHFIELD – The Piute T-birds weren’t playing for the state title in Saturday’s consolation game, but they still found a reason to give their best effort.

“Even though it’s not where we wanted to be, and it’s still hard to watch the other games, it’s important for us to finish our season and show what we’re made of,” head coach Devin Shakespeare said after the T-birds defeated a tenacious Green River team 70-60 to take fifth place in the 1A state tournament. “These seniors deserve to go out with a win. They’ve worked hard this year, and I’m so proud of them.”

Maybe more important is teaching the team’s underclassmen that part of sports – and life – is fighting through situations one never expected. That was the situation for Piute as the roster is mostly younger players.

“While the older guys deserve it, the younger guys need to know that resilience that you need," Shakespeare said. "You go through something that you didn’t want to go through, and building that resilience inside those younger kids is important.”

The T-birds are losing three seniors – Austin Garvey, Matthew Millett and Dalton Steed. Steed led the team in score with 17 points and six rebounds, while Logan Steed added 16 points and J.J. Ramos added 14 points.

For Green River, which managed to tie the game at halftime, the offense relied on balance. T. J. Hughes led with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Nick Corrigan, Chance Pfander and Jon Mendez each scored 11 points. Mendez also had the game’s only double-double with 13 rebounds.

Shakespeare said preparing for consolation play requires a different kind of mental toughness.

“It was hard,” he said. “The Monticello loss (on a last second 3-pointer) that we took is hard because we feel like we were right there. We’ve played Panguitch to the last possession a couple of times this season. I’m proud of our kids because it’s a harder game. We did want to finish on a win this year, and not a lot of teams get to finish with wins, and that was our goal. It was fun for them.”

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