Counterintuitive as it might sound, the first round of the 3A playoffs can be somewhat anti-climactic. The anticipation of facing one of your region rivals is absent, and although it’s single elimination the intensity level can often be substandard.
That was the case Friday night at Snow Canyon for about the first 10 minutes. Yet when the Warriors’ sense of urgency emerged, there was little Park City could do to contain them.
Led by Nate Gottfredson’s effort in the post — 21 points and 12 rebounds — and Chandler Gines’ mastery at the point (five assists to go with 14 points), Snow Canyon overcame an early deficit to beat the Miners 77-62 and advance to the 3A quarterfinals next week in Ogden.
The Warriors (14-6) will face Ben Lomond (14-9), which ousted Delta 58-45, on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Dee Events Center. Snow Canyon needs three more wins to hoist its first state championship since 2002 — and despite Friday’s margin of victory, don’t count this as an easy one.
“It’s different. We have those rivalries where you want to come out and play your best … here you don’t know anything about anyone (on Park City),” Gines said. “It’s kind of hard to get hyped up for that, but you’ve got to do it.”
The Warriors might even be more susceptible to a sluggish start in the next contest, which begins 10 hours earlier than most of their games. But on this evening, the balance of the contest more than made up for it.
“I think we overlooked them a bit,” Gines said. “In the second quarter we realized we were going to have to show up so I think it got us focused.”
The Warriors trailed 27-20 with 5:49 left in the second quarter before turning on the jets. Propelled by a pair of 3-pointers by Gabe Jensen, Snow Canyon bolted on a 16-2 run en route to a 36-31 halftime lead.
The Warriors built a 44-33 advantage in the second quarter before Park City struck back. The Miners (9-14) have several formidable shooters — led by Bosten VanDerVeur, who dropped 29 points — who made it interesting, trimming the deficit to seven.
Yet Gines, Snow Canyon’s floor impresario, hit a jumper, Spencer Call drained a three and Gottfredson collected three points to push the lead out to 15.
“We can go inside to Nate, we have Gines who can penetrate and then we have on the wings me, Kallan (Webster), (Brenden) Truman — and whoever else might be on,” Jensen said. “We’re all in great shape, and we like to run the ball up the court.”
That’s where the benefit of a Gottfredson comes into play. He won’t rip the rim down with reverse dunks, but he can get down the court fast and position himself for easy buckets. Nicknamed “The Garbage Man,” Gottfredson is also adept at turning offensive rebounds into layups with one motion.
“When he gets out and runs, we can get it to him almost any time we want,” said SC coach James Brown.
If Snow Canyon can put that type of effort together for 32 minutes in Ogden, perhaps the trophy case could need some rearranging. Friday was the necessary, and sometimes painful, first step on that journey.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Brown said. “I don’t know that we played well in the first quarter. The slow start kind of worries me a bit.”
Hayden Anderson had 12 points and Webster added 10 for the Warriors.
WASATCH 52, DESERT HILLS 46: The Desert Hills couldn’t hang on to its fourth quarter lead, and ultimately fell at Wasatch during the first round of the state tournament on Friday.
Ty Rutledge led the Thunder offensively with 19 points and Jackson Card added seven. Wasatch was led by Jeff Murdock (17 points).