|The Viking's Austin Preston goes for a shot in a recent home game. Last week he scored four and eight points respectively in the losses to Wasatch Academy and Tintic during Region 18 league contests.|
It's been a number of years since East Carbon High has had a winning boys basketball team. This year the wins have been non-existent at both the varsity and junior varsity level.
That was until Friday night when the JV squad defeated Tintic.
"It's a start," said head coach Jeff Cisneros.
A start it was and a positive one to go along with a double overtime loss in which the they took Tintic's varsity squad to the limit, before the Miners finally pulled it out, 66-56.
It didn't look rosy at all however, earlier in the week. On Wednesday night they had played Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant and had lost 71-37. That wasn't a surprise; the Tigers are ranked the number one 1A team in the state by the Deseret News and number four by the Salt Lake Tribune.
"Wasatch Academy has at least three players in the top 10 in the state," says Cisneros. "And four of the starting five aren't even from the United States."
So much for the ability of the small private schools in Utah to recruit the best from anywhere they want.
Problem with that game is that the Tigers took away the Vikings breath of life right from the start. They jumped on the kids from East Carbon 23 -11 in the first quarter and then decimated their offense even farther 14-5 in the second quarter.
In the third quarter the Tigers put up another 16 points vs. the ECH output of five, so it looked like a complete rout. Then suddenly things changed.
"They still had their starting five in and we came back and made a game of it for that quarter," says Cisneros. "We started to execute and make the plays we needed to make to even it up. It gave the kids some confidence to do that in a game in which they could have completely given up."
Wasatch Academy scored 18 points for the quarter, but the Vikings were able to muster 16 against tough opposition.
It is apparent that Tony McFarland has finally come out of his early season malaise, and in more than just scoring. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds and handed out a good number of assists.
"Tony's really working to get not only his game on track, but by helping other players too," stated Cisneros Monday morning. "He's been feeding the ball to others and everybody is getting more comfortable with our plays.
That comfort and confidence showed on Friday night against Tintic. For the first time this season the Vikings led at the end of the first quarter 13-12. The Miners did come back in the second period with a 18-10 advantage.
In the third period East Carbon started up the machine and this time it ran pretty smooth as they outscored the Miners 18-12 putting the score at 42-41 in favor of Tintic.
In the fourth quarter it was back and forth until the middle of the quarter and East Carbon forged ahead by five points. With two minutes left they held that lead, but a couple of fouls changed that tying up the score at the end of regulation.
In the first overtime neither team could get ahead as they only each scored one basket.
It was in the second overtime when the stress of the junior varsity play on the majority of the ECH players showed.
"Both Tony and Austin (Preston) fouled out in that second overtime," said Cisneros. "The rest of the guys were just out of gas from playing a whole JV game, a whole varsity game and two overtimes.
McFarland did the damage before he fouled out however. He had 29 points and 13 rebounds. During the game he made a remarkable 13 of 16 foul shots too. Preston scored eight and Shane Wood seven in the losing effort.
Now the team gets a respite from league play for a few days as they travel to Altamont on Wednesday night. But Friday they get right back in the thick of the league action when Dugway comes to town for a 7 p.m. game.