East’s football team was one play away from winning a football state championship last fall. Nothing will take the sting of that loss away for the players, but for three of them Monday’s victory over Springville in the first round of the 4A basketball state tournament helps.
Vaha Vainuku doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence either that East won its first playoff game since 2002
“We had a special season in football and we’re trying to bring that mentality to basketball. … Going hard in practice. We know what it takes to get to the big game,” said Vainuku.
Parker Van Dyke, who was the star against Springville with 30 points, didn’t play football. However, he’s the first to admit he’s benefitted from the presence of the football players.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of football players on the team, and they’ve really focused on that family mentality. The football players have brought that into the basketball team and we have a brotherhood going on and it’s made our team a lot better,” said Van Dyke.
East coach Skip Lowe believes the winning mentality from those who played football, baseball and soccer in the past year all contributed to Monday’s success.
“We want to draw on those type of things. Even though we (haven’t been to) the arena for a while, we have a lot of guys that have a lot of tournament experience, and that’s something we’ve really tried to draw on,” said Lowe.
In addition to East’s march to the football title game last November, East’s baseball team won three games last May while the soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals.
None of those teams won the state title though, a trend that the basketball team would love to end.