The 2A state boys basketball championship is going to be a matchup between two teams that finished second last year — San Juan (in 3A) and Enterprise in 2A.
“This has been the goal all year,” saiid Travis Black, head coach of San Juan Broncos, who dominated Roland Hall in a 60-34 semifinal matchup Friday night at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
Black credited playing in a region where rivalries run deep and competition runs hot.
“Region 19 is a very tough region,” Black said. “We beat on each other all year, and that’s prepared all of us for the state tournament.”
Rowland Hall took the lead early in the first quarter, building up a 9-2 edge thanks in part to Samuel Andrews’ work under the hoop.
However, San Juan scored the next 10 points, with 3-pointers from Ladd Ivins and Jace Palmer to overtake the lead at 12-9 as the first stanza ended.
The Broncos had a balanced scoring attack.
“Our five starters are all capable of scoring 10-20 points a night and they share that,” Black said. “There are no big egos on our team.”
Rowland Hall briefly reclaimed the advantage in the second period, but San Juan snapped it back before the half.
The Broncos never looked back, pouring on the points through the balance of the game.
“I told them to take that energy into tomorrow,” Black said.
The last time San Juan won a state championship was 30 years ago, when Black was a junior in high school. The Broncos won the state football trophy earlier this school year, and Black said they’d like one in basketball as a companion piece.
“We want to take one home tomorrow,” Black said. “Every boy we brought here this year was with us last year. We are returning four starters. We have a lot of state tournament experience from last year and it’s definitely helped us.”
Enterprise had a similar penultimate game against Kanab, besting the Cowboys 57-42 in Friday’s late game.
“Every year is a battle, night in and night out,” said Bud Randall, head coach of the Enterprise Wolves. “We have a tough region. It’s interesting we wound up playing three of our own region teams.”
Only one point separated Enterprise and Kanab through the first eight minutes, with the Wolves hanging on to the lead.
Then senior Ryland Randall went on a personal 7-point run, capped off by two more by teammate Matthew Ramos. The jump ahead fielded a 23-15 edge at the half, and Enterprise kept pushing through the rest of the game.
“Kanab is a great team and they’re coached well,” Randall said, adding that the Enterprise boys couldn’t let their guard down for a minute against the Cowboys.
“Our kids are doing well and fighting hard every night,” Randall said. “We’re kind of the underdog, so hopefully we can keep working hard and maybe bring home a state championship.
“It should be a fun and exciting game.”
Randall stressed to his seniors that Saturday’s championship game is their last chance to hit the pine as prep athletes.
“I told them to go out there and enjoy it,” Randall said. “You’re going to remember this the rest of your life.”