|Grand Junction High's Derek McCollough (25) tries to bring the ball down court against Carbon's Chase Julian during a state endowment game at the Dinogym on Saturday afternoon. Carbon sent the Colorado team packing home through the snow with a 58-56 win.|
Maybe the Carbon High boys team ought to play its season in the Colorado 5A ranks. After two victories in a row over two big schools from Grand Junction over the weekend they might be thinking of it.
However, it wasn't easy, but they did it just the same dispatching Central High's Warriors on Friday night 80-62 and then coming back on a very snowy Saturday afternoon just a few hours later and taking it to an 8-3 Grand Junction High team 58-56.
There were a lot of heros in this game, but no one can deny that Miles Hunsaker is one of the best players in Region 8 this year as he twisted and squirmed in for shots scoring 30 on Friday night and 24 on Saturday.
Carbon did the same thing they have done so often this year at the beginning of both games, they dug themselves big holes. But unlike so many other contests this year, they were able to climb out and ultimately triumph on the court. And the reason was simple; good defense.
Friday nights game began poorly for the Dinos. By the 6:27 mark in the first quarter they were down 7-0. At the end of the quarter Central still had the lead 19-9.
But the second quarter was one of the best the Dinos have played this year. They put on pressure and Hunsaker got very hot as he twisted and spun a number of times along the baseline. By the 4:44 mark they had tied the score up 23-23 and then a few seconds later Hunsaker was fouled and he made both shots putting Carbon ahead for good, though at the half even with the score 41-31 no one was sure what the outcome would be.
The third quarter was a little anemic for both teams as Carbon only managed 17 points, yet held the Warriors to 15.
Carbon again dominated the Colorado team in the fourth period, holding the Warriors to only 16 points.
It was a good victory, despite the fact that Central was 1-7 coming into the game.
Hunsaker may have been the leading scorer, but he had plenty of help too. He was aided in his efforts by Tyler Nelson and Chase Julian who each had 12 as well as Cameron Oliver who put through 10. Oliver had two three pointers to his credit.
That game was just a warmup for the Saturdays game however. It was an endowment game, meaning anything but state passes didn't get fans in free, so the fans who saw it had to cough up $6 to get in. Between that and the fact it was being played early in the afternoon on a stormy day meant that the gym wasn't too crowded. However, that didn't take away from the play.
Again Carbon began in the hole. With 1:33 left in the first quarter they were down 14-8 and the quarter ended with Carbon behind 18-11. Carbon already seemed doomed to some. Behind to a team with a 7-1 record and nowhere to go but up, it looked bad.
Even the second quarter didn't improve things. While Grand Junction struggled against the Dino defense only putting 12 points through the nets, Carbon's output only totalled 11 for the quarter.
But it was obvious when the teams returned to the court Carbon had a renewed vigor and they held on dearly in the third period, just hanging around until the time was right to make their move. The period ended 46-38, and it was no closer than it was when the second half began, but to most it seemed closer because of the way the Dinos had played in the third period.
In the fourth the Carbon kids made their move; slowly at first and then with some real momentum. By the 7:47 mark they were behind by only 4 points, 46-42. Then with some pretty good foul shooting and field work they were within in two, 50-48, of catching the Tigers. They finally did it at 5:02.
The game went back and forth for about three minutes with both teams shooting foul shots, and both not being as consistent about it as their coaches would have liked.
Players marched to the line left and right but in the end it was Hunsaker who sunk two free throws to tie the game 56-56 with 37 seconds to go.
Grand Junction marched down and took a shot but missed and Carbon sent it to the other end of the court. Then Nelson tried to take it to the basket and was fouled. He calmly walked up to the foul line and put in two free throws despite attempts by the Tigers to ice him by calling a time out.
Grand Junction called another time out, but when they came down with only a few seconds to go, they threw up the ball and it bounced off the rim, ending the game and their trip to and inhospitable Utah.
Carbon had won two games in less than 16 hours, beating two much larger schools, one with a very good record. It was celebration time and the team came running onto the court.
While Hunsaker was once again the top scorer for Carbon, Julian had an outstanding game not only in scoring (15 points) but also on defense where he and Oliver hounded the Tigers guards consistently as they brought the ball down court.
Now the preseason is over and Region 8 play begins Wednesday with Emery visiting the Dinogym at 7:00 p.m. Carbon has the better record (5-8) as opposed to the Spartans 3-9. But as anyone knows when these two eastern Utah teams get together, the fireworks could go in any direction.