GRANTSVILLE — The Grantsville Cowboys were one bad quarter away from upending one of the best Class 6A teams in Utah at home Wednesday, falling to Kearns 59-54.
“Anytime you get a team like Grantsville that plays hard, they’ve got a shot to win. It’s a hard game for us,” Kearns head coach Dan Cosby said. “This is a tough place to play; it’s a tough team. So how is it going to get us ready? Because they’re physical, and they never gave up. We had them on the ropes. We thought we were going to go for the kill, and you know what? It didn’t work out.”
The Cowboys turned the ball over 10 times during the second quarter, and Kearns turned those turnovers into an 11-0 run during the first five minutes of the period.
Kearns opened the quarter with a pair of steals on back-to-back possessions — one for a layup — to break what was a 13-13 stalemate at the end of the first. Grantsville senior guard Kevin Roberts scored on a putback with 3:40 left in the half to make it 22-15 and stop the bleeding.
“I think we were just making dumb passes,” sophomore forward Jackson Sandberg said. “I felt like we played really well other than that. We were making good passes, getting layups, getting to the hole. I felt like that was where we were strongest. At the end, we really made a couple turnovers we shouldn’t have, and I think the second quarter killed us.”
The first-half gap might have been widened further, but Kearns senior guard Journey Buba missed four free throws in the quarter, eventually finishing with 12 points and an 8-for-13 free-throw total.
Sandberg, who played in place of an injured senior captain Coy Johnson, opened the second half with two field goals at the block, scoring through a foul on one to make it a five-point game. He finished with 13 points in his first career start.
“He was getting putbacks over those 6-foot-8 kids,” senior forward Brady Arbon said, “That’s pretty impressive, especially for a sophomore.”
Arbon led all scorers with 20 points, 11 of which came during the final quarter. His 3-pointer from the top of the key with four minutes to go — Grantsville’s only triple of the night — cut the Kearns lead to six and forced Cosby to call timeout.
“He was being a really good leader,” Sandberg said of Arbon’s play. “He was making a lot of shots, finishing at the rim and getting rebounds.”
Grantsville outscored Kearns 35-30 in the second half. Roberts scored 13 points in the loss, and four other players combined for eight points.
Johnson sat out with a broken finger and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.
The win brings Kearns to 5-1, and the Cougars will next face Taylorsville at home Friday.
Grantsville moved to 5-2 with the loss, the team’s second straight. The Cowboys travel to Ogden on Friday before returning home to face West on Tuesday.
“We’re not going to see any more teams that big,” Sandberg said. “I’m glad we get those in so we can go strong into region.”
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.