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High school boys basketball: Physical Juan Diego stifles Highland to improve to 6-1

DRAPER —Juan Diego’s basketball program has never quite been able to match the success of its football program, but first-year coach Drew Trost is hoping to change all that.

Instead of discouraging the physical style his football players bring to the table, Trost is embracing it. The results so far have been very impressive.

Spurred on by another strong, aggressive defensive performance Friday night, Juan Diego pulled away from visiting Highland on its way to the 52-38 victory to improve to 6-1 this season.

Leading by one at the half, Juan Diego seized momentum for good by limiting Highland to just four points in the third quarter.

“I think our press wears on people. I think people think they’re handling it and all of the sudden we’re getting two stops, three stops, and we’re out getting up on them,” said Juan Diego junior Gabe Colosimo. “That’s why a lot of times we’ll jump on teams in the second half 'cause you’re constantly getting people in your face.”

Much of that physicality stems from the football season, which isn’t surprising considering that 10 of Juan Diego’s varsity players were also on the football team.

“It’s nice now because football and basketball are the same physicality, we’re getting after people,” said Colosimo.

That was particularly the case during the decisive third quarter. Leading 23-22 at the half, Juan Diego opened the third on an 11-0 run by forcing Highland into five straight turnovers to start the third quarter.

Colosimo converted a three-point play and knocked down a 3-pointer during the stretch, while Will Hoffler also knocked down one of his three 3s.

“These kids are really scrappy. They got some hands on some balls, diving after loose balls,” said Trost.

Juan Diego stretched its lead to 41-26 by the end of the quarter and coasted throughout the fourth quarter as Highland struggled to adjust to the absence of leading scorer Henry Morris. The senior went down with an apparent ankle injury on the first play of the third quarter and never returned.

As strong as Juan Diego was defensively by forcing Highland into 18 turnovers and limiting it to 34 percent shooting, Colosimo was equally as strong on the offensive end by pouring in 26 points.

“We feel so confident when the ball’s in his hands. We know he’s going to make a good decision. It’s awesome having your leading scorer also average almost eight assists. He’s really trying to get other people involved as well,” said Colosimo, who’s also averaging 5.8 assists this season.

Heading into next week’s Riverton Holiday Classic, Trost really likes the way his team is playing and believes things can only get better.

“Our ceiling’s very high. I still think we have a lot of room to grow and improve. I thought we could be pretty special and I think we still can,” said Colosimo.