Colts prove formidable in early season gamesJan 06, 2023 10:08AM ● By Brian Shaw
Senior Kirath Makhar was averaging almost 14 points per game through the Colts first three games of the season. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
Last year, the Cottonwood Colts boys basketball team hosted its first state playoff game in 15 years, finished with a winning record and only lost one of its leading scorers.
Athletic Director Greg Southwick and head coach Marc Miller are feeling confident about their team’s chances this year.
“They are looking good; they’ll be one of the top 5A teams,” Southwick said. “I’ll be awfully surprised if they’ll aren’t in the top 10 for most of the year.”
Junior Chris Cox returns and at 10.4 points per game was the Colts third option last year. Two seniors, Aidan Oliphant [their top rebounder] are back as is three-point specialist senior Max Russo; the question will turn to who fills those other two starting spots.
Southwick said he likes senior Kirath Makhar at the point guard spot—and senior Jackson Price is going to get some minutes as well.
Others in the Cottonwood back court who could play a role and got minutes on last year’s team include junior Ryan Nielson—the kicker on the Colts football team who went viral after his fair catch-free kick at Jordan—and sophomore Mason Tolley.
In the front court, the Colts will have junior Roman Caywood—along with some new kids who the Cottonwood AD said shined at the open tryouts that coach Miller held in Cottonwood’s main gym from Nov. 7-9.
Three weeks later, the most anticipated boys basketball team this school has had in years took the court 30 miles from home.
November To Remember
The Colts showed in their season opener that when they’re up against teams in Class 5A, they’re going to be tough to beat.
Cottonwood [1-1] shot 53% from the field and 45% from behind the painted arc to win 82-73 at 5A Mountain View Nov. 28. Junior Chris Cox led the Colts with 21 points and senior Makhar, 20, while Price tipped in 17.
On Nov. 30, however, Cottonwood was in foul trouble for most of the fourth quarter losing its home opener to 6A Herriman, 65-58.
The Colts cut Herriman’s lead to four with 1:05 left in the game. After the visitors were whistled for a foul, Cox had a tip-in on the inbounds pass to get to within two, 60-58.
After two Colts misses, Herriman drilled free throws on the other end to escape a loud and rowdy Cottonwood High gym with a win. Russo drilled four threes to pace the Colts with 12 points, while Cox scored 12 as well.
Cox is developing a disciplined shooting stroke. His 16 points per game average has come by way of 12-of-15 shooting from the field.
Makhar was another one who Miller added spent long hours over the summer honing his shot, and his 20 points at Mountain View also came with six assists, on 6-for-9 shooting.
On the glass, Oliphant has been a steady presence as evidenced by his 10-point, eight rebound outing at Mountain View as well. Junior Jackson Price’s 17 at Mountain View also came with seven rebounds and he added 11 points in the loss to Herriman.
Now that November is in the rearview mirror of the warm, defrosted windows of that school bus, the Colts will play their next two preseason games at home: 5A Skyline on Dec. 6 and 5A Brighton [Dec. 9].
After that it’s back on the bus for more nonregion games at 6A Taylorsville [Dec. 13] and 5A Park City [Dec. 14] before the Colts come home to host crosstown rival Murray on Dec. 16.
Cottonwood will then take the winter break off before returning to action for a four-day holiday tournament at which they’ll play four traditional basketball powers: 3A Judge Memorial Dec. 27, 6A Kearns Dec. 28, followed by a game against 6A Riverton Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, against 6A Roy.
After that, it’s time for Region 7 action to begin as the Colts will travel to Cedar Valley on Jan. 4 and will have their region home opener Jan. 6, against Stansbury.
It’s a brutal preseason schedule according to the Cottonwood AD, but this team has all the pieces to make a serious run at a region title and at state.
We’ll have a full recap of the Colts’ games in next month’s South Salt Lake Journal.