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South Salt Lake Journal

Team balance leads to the best start for Cottonwood boys basketball in a long time

Feb 22, 2021 11:12AM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

If the Cottonwood boys basketball team is taking a page from the Utah Jazz, then it’s no surprise that the Colts have been the most unselfish in many years. The Jazz have taken a quantum leap thanks to extraordinary team balance and so has Cottonwood. 

“That program is taking a huge step forward,” explained Greg Southwick, Cottonwood athletic director. “And it all begins with the coach we have.” 

The Colts are 8-9 overall as of press deadline, steadily rising up the RPI ratings that will determine who they will face in the first round of the Class 5A State Basketball Tournament. 

The reason for this near-.500 record may have just as much to do with what the players have done to buy into the ideas head coach Marc Miller is proposing.

Looking over the season statistics bears out this theory that there has been a significant buy-in by the players. For example, the team only has one senior starter—Andre Cooper—and he has accepted more of a secondary role in terms of scoring. 

Several juniors and a sophomore top Cooper as far as scoring goes, led by junior Noah Widerburg, who at 16.8 points per game is one of the top 10 scorers in Class 5A. 

The balance doesn’t stop there, however. Sophomore Aiden Oliphant averages 10.8 points per game and junior Cooper Lindsey is contributing 10 points as well. 

Another reason for Cottonwood’s success may come from Cooper, who as a senior has become the team’s primary playmaker, averaging six assists per game, which is fourth-best in Class 5A. Oliphant is in the top 10 Class 5A best in rebounding and blocked shots, and Lindsey is one of the state’s best three-point shooters. 

All told, this balance is contributing to what has already been a season to remember for Cottonwood, who only has four region games left before turning its attention to an unprecedented state tournament appearance sometime in March.