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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood girls basketball has found its stride at the right time

Feb 23, 2022 07:30PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

Amid cries from parents in the stands demanding to know why this or that foul was not called—though the ref was standing at least 100 feet away from one angry mom and could not hear a thing if he wanted to—the girls basketball game between Cottonwood and Stansbury played on at the court of host Stansbury High Feb. 1 was a warning to the rest of Class 5A that the Colts have found their stride.

This Tuesday night tussle was a critical contest in the battle to determine future state tournament seeding—Stansbury at 4-2 was 1.5 games ahead of Cottonwood in the latest Region 7 standings—yet it was the visiting Colts who held a tight grip on the lead for all of the first quarter.

Cottonwood was also ahead for most of the second and all through the third.

The Colts struggled getting passes into the low post in the fourth, however, providing the hosts and favorites Stansbury with enough rope to lasso in Cottonwood and narrow the lead to four at 37-33 with 5:30 left in the game.

But a crucial steal by senior guard Olivia Tassainer at the 5:24 mark gave the Colts back the ball and they used a smaller lineup and pesky pressure to frustrate the hosts from there on out as Cottonwood held on for a crucial 49-44 win.

Tassainer, who scored 15 points and had four steals on the game then showed Stansbury she had a little sauce in that dribble, controlling the pace despite Stansbury’s parents who were screaming about missed calls for most of the game. In spite of a somewhat hostile environment the Colts stayed composed and took the wire-to-wire victory, their second in as many games after a 51-48 win at Uintah on Jan. 25.

The Colts then galloped to a resounding 43-28 thumping of rival Hillcrest in the battle across I-215 Feb. 3 in what will turn out to be their only meeting of the season. In the process the Colts recorded their third win in a row.

Senior forward Ali Tripp, who captained Cottonwood volleyball to the only state tournament game they would play a few months earlier in a tough play-in game loss at Hillcrest, rebounded with a 21-point outing against the crosstown rival.

What’s amazing about this turnaround is that Cottonwood [8-9, 4-4 Region 7, fourth place] started its first season in Region 7 having lost four of its first five dating back to Jan. 5.

But since that point it has been the Colts who have changed their standing in the new league with a formula of stingy defense and transition baskets. It might look to some like the Utah Jazz who use an inside-outside combination of fast, athletic guard play and midrange shooting as well, but it’s actually how the Colts have to play with what they have.

Led by the senior captain Tripp [16.7 points per game], freshman center Avea Van Der Beek [6.2] and pesky pressure defense from sophomore guard Alivia Hutton [3.9] to go with clutch shooting from Tassainer at 11.4 points per contest, Cottonwood has grown into the new region and is now poised to push for a higher seed at the upcoming 5A state tournament.