After a double digit loss in November to a steady 5A Davis Dart team, the UIntah Utes opened their 2016-7 home schedule against a 5A team from Colorado, the Fruita Monument Wildcats. While getting a first glimpse at this years Ute team, the home crowd saw returning starters Korbin Gardner, John Parker, and Dorian Walters take control early. In a first quarter that included the Utes taking a 28-6, Korbin Gardner led the way with 10 points that quarter, Parker with 5, and Walters with 7. Those 3 returning starters wowed the crowd with their crisp passing, deadeye shooting, and ability to penetrate for easy shots. J
ohn Parker, who normally is great from 3 point range missed his first two, so he resorted to distributing the ball early, but he did add a 3 point shot just before the end of the quarter. Parker ended the game with 13 points, which included many baskets in transition and a big dunk to put the game away.
Korbin Gardner nailed his first shot from beyond the arc, while hitting 3 3-pointers for the game and ending up with 21 points for the game. Gardner’s scoring average is 24 as he hit up Davis for 27 points in the first game.
Dorian Walters drove, passed, and found his way on the receiving end many times as he finished the game 20 points.
Another senior. Cruz Leyba, had a 3 early in the first quarter, but had only two free throws the rest of the way to end with 5 points. While Leyba doesn’t add up the numbers in the scoring column, his defense was instrumental in creating opportunities for his teammates.
To even out the scoring, Brett Christensen and Gavin Hardy each had two free throws, and Hunter Severe got a bucket down low for an early 2 points. Each of those players ended the game with 2 points each.
Fruita, on the other hand, had a very slow start. The 2nd and 3rd quarters belonged to them, however, as they outscored the Utes 15 to 11, and 18-14 respectively. One group of Fruita spectators complimented the Utes on the fast start, and wondered about the Utes success last year and future success this year. In comparison to Colorado’s 5A teams, Fruita can match up until going against the big Denver Schools. The spectators felt that the Utes ranked up with those teams in toughness and talent.
The Utes won the respect of the Colorado visitors as the game was sealed with the Utes winning the 4th quarter 14-10 that capped an 18 point victory. THe final score was 67-49.
The Fruita Monument Wildcats were led in scoring by Gunner Rigsby who had 8 points in the 3rd quarter and 15 points overall. Daren Davidson came off the bench for 7 points, Jake Brizzolara showed his range with 9 points all off of 3-pointers, Cade Oxford had 4 off the bench, Trey Morrill had 6 spread between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters. And Ty Bird and Ryan Biggs had 2 points apiece.The Utes next home game isn’t until Region play in January. Before then the Utes play in the Smoky Mountain tournament over the holidays, the Cache Valley tournament in Logan, and a Road matchup with Union on January 3rd in Roosevelt.