Juan Diego boys basketball makes final four; girls reach quarterfinalsApr 23, 2020 02:39PM ● By Catherine Garrett
The JDCHS boys basketball team lost in the 4A state semifinals to Dixie 52-50 Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy Drew Trost)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
The Juan Diego Catholic boys basketball team is used to being there at the end. Since 2015, the Soaring Eagle program has been in the state title game three times, and had a semifinal appearance last season as well. This year, the team advanced to the semis again where they lost to Dixie 52-50 Feb. 28. The girls squad lost to Green Canyon 61-54 in overtime Feb. 27 in the state quarterfinals, its first trip past the first round since winning it all in 2017.
After a 1-4 start to the season, Juan Diego turned things around and successfully defended its region championship for the sixth year in a row while also enjoying two seven-game winning streaks on its way to an 18-9 record.
At the 4A state tournament, the Soaring Eagle had a first-round bye before defeating Crimson Cliffs 62-46 and then Ridgeline 57-52 to reach the final four.
“After we finally got going this year, we just took off,” head coach Drew Trost said. “There was definitely a learning curve as we tried to replace three key seniors and get used to each other. But, our guys showed a lot of character and resolve and it ended up being a really successful year.”
Trost said a key turning point for his squad was in its own Eagle Holiday Shootout when they faced a tough Bear River team and turned a tie game at half into a blowout with a 48-point second half effort to win 76-59. Beating Tooele and Stansbury on the road in Region 10 play were also important wins in defending its region dominance.
Juan Diego was led by senior point guard Talon Valdes, who had a school-record 517 points this season, averaging 20 points a game, and senior guard Gabe Soto, who added 10. “Talon took a lot of the scoring load and Gabe was just rock solid on both ends for us,” Trost said. “They were definitely the mainstays for our group during another successful year.”
Also on the junior varsity and varsity teams this year were seniors Laurbong Gai, Tamatoa Rezzouq, Nae Roy and Lorenzo Soto; juniors Jag Gill-Martin, David Kinneberg, Matty Rodriguez, Matt Rohden and Maui Roopinia; sophomores Vaa Haitiio and Evan Wigton; and freshmen Micah Madry and Zuriel Marquez.
The freshmen and sophomore teams consisted of sophomores Nelson Arapa, Colby Bryant, Nick Ceballos, Hauragi Charles, Callum Goodwin, Jaxon Green, Malik Harris, Jansen Hoffard, Nick Kimball, Arthur Sousa, Maoake Tahirori and Drew Wyatt; and freshmen JJ Muro, Boko Nanneman, Steffon Osterberg, Camillo Ramirez, Jack Raup,
Trost was assisted on the coaching staff by Joe Colosimo, Hector Marquez, Jonathan Schneber and Scott Sellers.
Following a 5-4 preseason, Juan Diego steamrolled through Region 10, winning all 12 of its games by an average of 23 points. The closest matchup was a 49-41 win over Uintah Feb. 4.
The Soaring Eagle squad received a first round bye in the 4A state tournament before meeting Uintah for the third time this season. On Feb. 22, Juan Diego won 31-21.
“A lot of people doubted us against Uintah saying that we couldn’t beat a team three times, but we played great defense and did it,” senior Laulea Tavake said.
Juan Diego’s loss to Green Canyon ended a 16-game winning streak with the team finishing 18-5 on the season. Against Green Canyon, senior Kiely Rasmussen scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Tavake — who didn’t play last year due to a torn ACL — also added 17 points along with 14 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. “They both really stepped up that night and had phenomenal games,” head coach Ashley McKray said.
“The team did amazing in state,” McKray said. “Although we lost in overtime in the quarters, the girls battled each and every play. That is all I could ask for as a coach and they left all they had out on the court.”
Tavake said, “The season didn’t end like we wanted it to, but it was a good comeback from last year.”
Rasmussen and senior Kamry Pan led the team with 10 points a game while Tavake and sophomore Mahinetea Tavane combined for 17 points to go with 10 rebounds a game, leading the team on the glass.
“Our seniors had a few goals for this season and one of them was to take the region championship,” McKray said. “They also had a goal to hold each opponent under 40 points per game, and I feel that both went hand-in-hand and allowed us to achieve both goals.”
Also on the Soaring Eagle squad this season were seniors Marissa Butkovich and Maya Sherrell; juniors Hailey Carlson, Samantha Griffis, Samantha Lengerich, Sophia Lopez, Eliana Moreno and Cierra Turner; sophomores Kyra Hoffman, Nicole Mamuzi, Mary Tessa Pan and Kira Rhay; and freshman Melissa Osmundson.