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Valley sharpens their weapons by stinging the Mustangs, heading into the heart of the season

On Wednesday, January 11, the Buffalos entourage wended their way up to the Tropical climes and pastures of the Bryce Valley Mustangs, for which both JV and Varsity squads were rewarded with well-earned wins of 69-51 and 53-35, respectively, and both by an identical 18-point differential, following their 45-50 and 50-70 wake-up calls with Wayne the previous week in Bicknell.

In celebration of his 18th birthday, a buoyant Bret Heaton stretches with utmost energy in a powerful performance before teammates Johnny Cox (#20) and MaCoy Harris (#1), fans, friends and family members. VHS photos by Jerry Melrose.

Looking at the midseason statewide status picture of the 24 teams in the 1A Class and the Region 20 Division therein, at #1 is Panguitch with an 11-3 record, as well as in the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) ranking of 0.728785. Although #2 Piute, at 10-3 by its Win-Loss measure, places its RPI currently #4 with 0.687494, whereas #5 Valley, at 9-2 ranks #2 in its higher RPI of 0.690852. Similarly, just to get the general idea, #7 Milford (13-2) has an RPI of 0.614165; #9 (8-5) Wayne’s is 0.540666; #10 Water Canyon (3-4) is 0.508900; #16 Green River (7-8) is 0.434976; #17 Diamond Ranch Academy (3-8) is 0.424321 and #21 Escalante (1-6) is 0.313802.

Assessing the game in the following day’s thoughtful leisure, Coach Owen Hoyt concedes, “Yeah, so, Bryce Valley’s always a tough opponent for us: good rivalry there. They play us tough; and they always play well at their place. So, I expected a really, really tough match-up. And that we would have to go over there and play good basketball.”

And of the adjustments deemed necessary in light of the Wayne defeats, he notes, “One thing that we’ve been focused-on this week was defense and keeping teams out of the paint. We feel like we’re a much better defensive team when we are not in the paint. And they did a really good job of executing our defensive gameplan. We held them to 35 points. So, really great defensive effort by our guys: we rebounded well.

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“And then, offensively, we simplified the offense looking for ‘advantage’ basketball. Got guys open! I thought our big guy, Bret Heaton, played his best game of the season: had 21 points! We love to see our big guys score. And so, great, great ‘team’ performance for us. And we feel like we can build on that one!”

In the win, brash birthday boy Bret Heaton celebrated his 18th by crashing the hoop for nine doubles and three-of- four from the strip, leading all scorers with 21. MaCoy Harris contributed 14 (two treys and four deuces) to the party, Tyler Bonham netted eight (two triples and a double), Johnny Cox sank seven (one triple and two doubles), along with Cooper Chamberlain’s solo three.

Likewise, JV Coach Jake Millard, gratified with his team’s bounce back response to their taste of adversity, right afterwards analyzed the evening’s proceedings: “Yep, Bryce Valley was running a ‘trap’ on us the entire game after the first few minutes, when we took the lead. And our boys learned some lessons; our freshmen had enough turnovers to learn some tough lessons. But, ultimately, we played pretty tough.

“Jace (Cox) had a great game! The leader of the team in multiple ways, but he stayed aggressive and continued to lead in getting turnovers at the other end. And we rallied pretty good in the second half. We really won that game in the first minutes of the first quarter. And then, from halfway in the third quarter, we rallied and really took the game out of contention. I was really proud of them for doing that!”

It was Boede Cox, with his seven from beyond the arc, two doubles and one free-throw that paced the team with 25 points, three less than his career best. Jace Cox commanded 20 from six doubles and eight-of-10 from the line. Warren Spencer warranted 10 on five deuces. Preston Franklin pressed-in four doubles, while Tay Young hung-in 2 triples.

January 25 will have them host the all-categories league leading Panguitch Bobcats and on Friday, January 27, they’ll welcome the Water Canyon Wildcats. If you can’t be there in-person, check-out the school website for the live broadcast, accompanied with commentators’ interactions.

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