HEBER CITY — Grantsville fourth-year head coach Bryan Detweiler is finally taking the Cowboys past the first round of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.
Thanks in part to a 30-point performance by senior forward Brady Arbon, Grantsville beat Union 68-59 in the first round Saturday at Wasatch High School, the first time a Detwiler-led Cowboy team has pushed through to the quarterfinals of a state tournament despite qualifying for the tournament every year.
“It’s huge,” Arbon said. “We finished this time. We came out and finally played four quarters.”
Grantsville built a 20-point lead with two minutes to play in the third quarter, highlighted by an Arbon fast-break bucket to finish off a 10-2 run. But Union went on an 11-0 run immediately after to close the quarter, cutting the lead to 50-41.
Senior guards Ryan Potter and Kevin Roberts opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back three-point plays, giving Grantsville back a 15-point lead. Union never came closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“Arbon got a lot of points because we were just sharing the ball,” Potter said. “It just feels great to play team basketball, and that’s what happened in the first half.”
Union seemed to take control of the game early, scoring on a driving layup on the first possession. The Cougars used its diamond 1-2-1-1 full-court press to force a turnover on the next play and held Grantsville off the scoreboard for the first two minutes of the game.
Arbon scored first for Grantsville, a quick layup assisted by sophomore forward Jackson Sandberg, to make it 2-2 after 1:59 had elapsed. Potter followed that with a 3-pointer on the next possession, then earned a steal-turned-layup to make it 7-2. Sandberg later blocked a shot that led to an Arbon layup, which caused Union head coach Gordon Garrett to call timeout with 4:47 to go in the quarter.
“They’re just competitors,” Garrett said. “They take coaching well from Bryan, he does an excellent job with them. They’ve been in our region the last couple years, and we knew what we were going to get. We saw exactly what we expected, we just weren’t able to convert to our game plan as well as they converted to theirs.”
Union senior Jonathan Parker had 20 points in his final game as a Cougar, and Kaiden Owen had 13 in his finale.
Both teams were in the bonus for the majority of the game. Potter and Detweiler said one aspect of the game plan was to send Cougar senior Ty Gillman — a 30-something percent free-throw shooter — to the foul line often. He was held without a field goal and went 3-for-16 from the free-throw line.
As a team, Grantsville shot 86 percent from the foul line.
Arbon’s 30 points eclipsed his career-high from back-to-back nights in December: the win against West on Dec. 19, and the loss to Emery the day after.
“We tried to get him some more places down low to score. I think he attacked the basket and finished too,” Detweiler said of Arbon’s performance. “He looked ready to go. He logged a lot of minutes and was focused, and he was there defensively for us, too.”
Roberts, Potter and Sandberg combined for another 32 points, and sophomore forward Ammon Bartley chipped in with the remaining six.
“It just feels great to get out of the first round,” Potter said. “It felt like for a long time we were in a funk. We were in a rut, just couldn’t get out of it. It was a curse, like the Chicago Cubs. But we got out of it and we’re going down to Dixie. It just feels great to do this my senior year.”
Grantsville will next face Grand in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A boys basketball playoffs, a game that is set to tip off at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at Dixie State University.
“I wish them the best of luck down there, I think they can make a deep run into the tournament,” Garrett said.
Tavin Stucki has covered prep sports in Utah for more than nine years. This story was not subject to the approval of the Grantsville basketball program.