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Riding high: Both Grantsville basketball teams play in semifinals during same season for first time

ST. GEORGE — For the first time in school history, the Grantsville boys and girls basketball teams have reached the semifinals of their respective state playoff tournaments in the same season.

And the path both teams took couldn’t have been much more exciting.

After both teams won their first-round matchups by a combined margin of 37 points, the quarterfinals matchups at Dixie State University were the opposite of blowout wins.

The boys beat Grand County in the venue’s first game of the weekend, a 66-62 overtime win that saw the Cowboys come back from eight points down on two occasions to do it.

"We're right there with them. We just need to take care of the ball and finish," associate head coach Brandon Pehrson said at halftime.

That game took place as the girls team was somewhere in the middle of the 290-mile trek from Grantsville to St. George. All eyes were glued to the livestream on the bus, and the girls team celebrated just as hard on the bus as the boys did in Burns Arena.

Riding their schoolmates’ emotional high, the girls team led for approximately 2 ½ seconds of their 49-47 win over South Sevier on Thursday evening, thanks to Ashlee Edwards’ steal and layup in the final seconds to save the game from going to overtime.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re down 10 or up 10, they’re going to fight and give it everything they have, no matter what,” Grantsville head coach Megan Vera said.

But the Grantsville boys basketball team had to overcome a little bit more than just an on-the-court opponent to get through to the semifinal. The Cowboys played Thursday’s game without head coach Bryan Detweiler, who delayed his trip to St. George because of a family emergency earlier this week.

Under Pehrson’s leadership, the Cowboys played Thursday’s game with a black letter D written on the backs of their hands, a nod of respect to the work Detweiler has put into Grantsville’s basketball community. The coach joined the team late Thursday night at its hotel after the family crisis had somewhat abated, but not before putting in a phone call to Pehrson to make sure his delayed arrival wasn’t going to cause any bad juju or otherwise jinx the team.

It wasn’t the first time Pehrson had taken the reins for a game or two. The junior varsity coach piloted the Cowboys midway through the 2016-17 season when the Detweilers welcomed a new baby into the family.

The girls team will play Emery at 5:50 p.m., and the boys team is scheduled to tip off against Manti at 9:10 p.m. at Dixie State University.

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.