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The City Journals

Juan Diego boys basketball second best in state

Apr 06, 2018 11:05AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Juan Diego Catholic High junior Jason Ricketts averaged 13 points and seven rebounds a game for the second-place Soaring Eagle squad. (Photo courtesy of Mikelle Marston)

For the third consecutive year, the Juan Diego Catholic High School boys basketball team earned a trip to the state championship game. And for the third year in a row, the Soaring Eagle squad finished the season in second place with a 64-55 loss to Salem Hills at Utah Valley University March 3.

“It was another frustrating ending,” head coach Drew Trost said. “To even get to the final game three years in a row is a great credit to the program and the consistency we’re trying to build here. It’s just that the ultimate ending for us this season was frustrating. We fell a little short again.”

In the title game, Juan Diego and Salem Hills went toe-to-toe for three quarters with the Soaring Eagle up at the end of each, including a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter. But, Salem Hills’ James Nelson made key shots while Juan Diego shot 2-of-9 from the free throw line and the Skyhawks pulled away for the win.

At the 4A state tournament, Juan Diego defeated Lehi 75-50 Feb. 24 in the first round behind junior Jason Ricketts’ 22-point, six-rebound effort. Against Hurricane March 1, Juan Diego pulled out a 58-54 win with Ricketts again leading the scoring with 16 rebounds and 10 boards. Senior Matt Kitzman had 15 points while junior Raimoana Tinirauarii put in 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds. 

In the semifinals, Juan Diego held Orem to 15 combined points in the second and fourth quarters — while scoring 36 points — to defeat the Tigers 57-40 March 2 to reach the championship game.

“We came into the state tournament feeling like there were four or five teams that could win, with us being one of them,” Trost said. “Orem was also on that list, so coming into their place and winning like we did was a huge win for us.”

The Region 11 champions went undefeated at home for the second year in a row this season as it ended the year with a 22-6 record.

Juan Diego was led by Kitzman, the region’s Most Valuable Player, who averaged 15 points a game as the point guard this year after starting as a shooting guard the last two seasons. “He exceeded all of my expectations,” Trost said. “He was terrific all year.”

Ricketts also had a “terrific year,” according to Trost, with his 13 points and seven rebounds averages this season, while Tinirauarii, who has “really developed this year,” according to Trost, put in 11 points a game. 

Junior Lawson Roe, who was a non-varsity player last season, hit a school record 82 3-pointers this year.

Others on the 2017-18 team were seniors Brady Greene, Turner Crooms and Chinonso Opara; juniors Mikey Curran, Campbell Magrane and Kalthom Kur; and sophomores Gabe Soto, Lorenzo Soto, Jobi Gelder, Laurbong Gai and Kemari Bailey; and freshmen Talon Valdez and Jag Martin.

“I’m really proud of how these guys joined together,” Trost said. “I’m just proud of how they developed and the hard work they put in this year.”

Trost was assisted on the coaching staff by Ron Preece, Hector Marquez, Joe Colosimo and Larry Colosimo.

Next year, Juan Diego will return Ricketts, “one of the best players in 4A,” according to Trost, along with Kur, a 6’6” player who will figure into the rotation more, and Bailey, who provided six points off the bench this season.

“We still definitely have some good pieces coming back,” Trost said.