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Draper Journal

Juan Diego boys basketball tops in 4A

Feb 04, 2019 11:10AM ● By Catherine Garrett

The Juan Diego Catholic High School boys basketball team has won 15 of its 16 games this season, including two wins over 6A schools in Herriman and Bingham. (Photo credit Mikelle Marston)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

The Juan Diego Catholic High School boys basketball team has gotten off to a hot start this season winning its first six games by an average of more than 20 points. Its only loss in an 15-1 record came Dec. 20 against Rangeview, Coloorado 59-44 at the Tarkanian Classic on its way to the consolation championship at the tournament. Since then, the No. 1 ranked Soaring Eagle squad won its next four games by three points or less — including a 51-46 overtime win over Herriman and a 43-42 victory over Bingham — before defeating Tooele 51-43, Stansbury 41-36, Ben Lomond 66-48, Park City 69-36 and Ogden 82-30 in its first region games.

“We have had a great start to the season,” head coach Drew Trost said. “We have had big wins over Herriman and Bingham and also played very well down in Las Vegas at the Tarkanian Classic.”

Senior guard Rai Tinirauarii is leading the team in scoring with more than 18 points and five rebounds a game. “He is one of the very best players in the whole state and he is showing that on a nightly basis,” Trost said.

Tinirauarii said the team has become closer as the season has gone on. “We’re not just teammates, we are a family,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot of things on and off the court. We also have overcome some challenges in games that will definitely help us in the future and as the season goes.”

Seniors Lawson Roe, who averages seven points a game, and Kalthom Kur, who gives Juan Diego five points and six rebounds a game, have also been key to the team’s success so far this season. “Our three seniors have been doing a great job of leading the team while our young talent has truly stepped up to the challenge of varsity basketball and even excelled,” Trost said. 

“Kalthom has been solid as a rock in the post for us while leading the team in rebounds,” Trost said, noting that the 6'5" forward had the offensive rebound and “made a beautiful jump hook at the buzzer” in Juan Diego’s win over Bingham 43-42 Dec. 29. “That was something I am sure he will never forget and truly a testament to all of his hard work over the years.”

Sophomore Talon Valdes has “stepped into a starting role and is playing excellent,” according to Trost. The 5'10" point guard is averaging eight points and has hit “several clutch baskets at the end of games” for Juan Diego.

Also on the JDHCS team this season are juniors Kemari Bailey, Gai Laurbong, Wesley Rasmussen, Tamatoa Rezzouq, Nae Roy, Gabe Soto and Lorenzo Soto; sophomores Justice Brusatto, Rangi Colombel, Jag Gill-Martin, David Kinneberg, Lucas Mates, Matt Rohden and Maui Roopinia; and freshmen Nelson Arapa, Nick Ceballos, Moises Diaz, Harevaa Hatitio, Nick Kimball, Dallas Larson, Eric Puhetini, Maoake Tahiron, Diego Valdez, Evan Wigton and Drew Wyatt.

Trost is being assisted on the coaching staff by Joe Colosimo, Hector Marquez, Jonathan Schrieber and Trevor Carlston.

The keys for continued success throughout region play, according to Trost, will be rebounding and smart ball-handling. “Our defense has proved to be excellent, but we need to really clean up our turnovers as mental mistakes have cost us,” he said. “We also need to be more consistent rebounding the ball. I just think we can be relentless on the boards but we have not consistently done that this year yet.”

Tinirauarii said the team is focusing on Trost’s philosophy of “Defense, Effort and Attitude” in the second half of the season. “If we want to be successful, we need to play for each other and not for ourselves.”

Juan Diego has held home court steady over the past few years with a 37-game home winning streak. “This is a tribute to the hard work of our players and the great environment that our student section, cheer team, drill team, band and staff create for us every night at home,” Trost said. “We were pushed to the brink this year against Herriman and Bingham. Our guys work very hard year-round and it sure is nice to see it pay off for them.”