Justin Johnson on fire at the game with Grand puts up 40 points.
The Green River Pirates came out running against the Escalante Moquis Saturday in their home opener. Justin Johnson scored an impressive 40 points, Spencer Marshall was also in double figures with 12. Erick Mendez added eight and Adrian Escalante had seven in the lopsided victory over the Moquis. They headed to Moab on Wednesday and faced the Grand County Devils and returned home with a victory 67-65.
As Justin Johnson drives the ball past half court, coach Tom Hughes calls time out with the game tied at 65 and 20 long seconds on the clock in a game that had the Grand County Red Devils leading for the better part of 3.5 quarters. Adrian Escalante takes the ball out on the far court and gives it to Justin Johnson who drives down low towards the basket, takes a shot but misses. Eric Mendez hauls in the rebound and immediately draws contact and the whistles start blaring. Red Devil players are stunned and protest loudly but Eric calmly drains both giving the Pirates a slim two point lead.
With 15 seconds remaining, Spencer Marshall and Adrian Escalante put pressure on the Red Devils to eat up the clock. As time winds down, the ball is given to the Red Devils big man, who banks a shot off the glass, which touches the rim and...
Each Green River Pirate and Grand County Red Devil player was looking forward to this game. Green River had a large crowd travel the familiar road to visit their long standing rival. Moab packed the stands with eager fans. From the tip off with only seven ticks off the clock, Justin Johnson pulls up on the far side of the court and drains a tre to give the Pirates an early lead. The first quarter ends with the two teams locked at 13 and the adrenaline pumping. The energy in the gym was electric and you knew the next three quarters were going to be good. Coach Hughes said after the game, "I figured that if we kept the score within 10 points, a loss would be a moral victory because of the games played the previous year."
With the help of some great outside shooting, the Red Devils lit up the basket and took a ten point lead into half time, but the Pirates never gave up and they continued to play team ball. Justin Johnson was on fire scoring 40 points for the night making nine the first quarter, 12 the second, six the third and he lit it up the fourth quarter with two 3-pointers, going 13 for 18 from the line for the game.
Eric Mendez stepped up big time with his offense and defensive play. Eric drained four field goals and one 3-pointer late in the game to help with the score and get the Pirate fans on their feet.
Jordan Olsen made only one field goal all night but it was a big one. Jordan worked his tail off on defense and got open down low next to the Pirate bench where he threw up a long ball which hit nothing but net.
Adrian Escalante and Spencer Marshall while not putting up big offensive numbers contributed like no other on the defensive end of the basket. Adrian held the Red Devil's offensive powerhouse to two points; one field goal and he clanked the front end of a 1-and-1. Last year in Green River this particular player scored 40+ points for the Red Devils. Spencer scored six points and exhibited great hustle through out the game.
Hold on, there is still a game to be played on the Pirates home court.