‘I like our chances’
Bulldogs take solid late-season-wins, seeded No. 9 in 2A tournament
By Ben Lasseter
At the completion of the regular season, Gunnison Valley Boys’ Basketball Coach Ben Hill said his team was feeling “comfortable” on the court.
Coming off of two wins to help propel his team to the No. 9 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs, he had plenty of reason to be confident.
The Bulldogs finished the week 11-8, including 6-4 in 2A Region 16 play. They beat North Summit (11-7, 6-5 in region), 66-59, at home on Wednesday and Altamont (9-8, 4-6 in region), 55-45, away on Thursday. In the past four weeks, Gunnison Valley is 6-1, winning three games against teams that beat them previously.
“Defensively, we’ve been able to slow all three teams that we’ve played down,” he said. “That’s been the key.”
He said his offense has also been able to improve late in the season, most notably thanks to senior forward Janzen Keisel scoring more frequently.
“Offensively, we’ve been very consistent in getting the ball where we want it to be. With Janzen playing and shooting very well, that allows our guards to attack the paint more,” he said. “We run a motion offense, so it’s not really easy to scout because it’s a lot of just creating plays, taking advantage of mismatches.”
Keisel frequently found mismatches and scored 24 points against North Summit to lead his team on senior night. Senior guard Creed Mogle, who attacked the paint consistently in the game to create shots for himself and teammates, had 17 points, and senior forward Harley Hill had 13.
A ceremony honored Keisel, Mogle, Harley Hill and the other seniors, including Zach Stewart and Payton Dyreng, who are guards, and forwards Spencer Overly and Bryce Rasmussen.
On Thursday, Gunnison Valley needed to win but did not have the luxury of knowing what their standing in the playoffs would be. There were multiple teams competing for open spots in the top 10 in the 2A rankings, which give first-round byes in the state playoffs.
All they could do to control their destiny was defeat Altamont, which they did handily. Two days later, they were named the No. 9 seed in the tournament.
Gunnison Valley dominated Altamont in the first half, making the score 29-10 to enter halftime, having held the Longhorns to just two points in the second quarter. They kept the offensive tempo up in the second half and cruised to victory.
Mogle and Hill each had 16 points, sophomore guard Jon Willden had 13, and Keisel had nine.
Coach Hill said his team’s mentality would not change much entering the postseason.
“I like our chances. I like what we do,” he said. “In the past three games, we’ve been able to create a lot of wide open three point shots. We’ve got a multi-faceted offense that’s hard to guard.”
Hill said the team would benefit from a week of practice to prepare for its second-round play-in opponent, Kanab, which will host the Bulldogs on Friday. The winner will advance to the state tournament at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
Kanab finished its regular season 9-8 and went 4-4 against 2A Region 18 opponents to earn the No. 8 seed in the state playoff. The Cowboys defeated the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Dec. 16, the only time the teams faced each other this year.