Skip to main content

South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood girls basketball team uses skill, expertise to outwit opponents

Feb 06, 2023 01:48PM ● By Brian Shaw

Ali Tripp recently scored her 1,000th point for the Colts. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

When good teams want to impose their will on opponents they will usually trap them in the forecourt, said Cottonwood Athletic Director Greg Southwick. 

But when teams decide they’re going to take that next step to be great, added the Cottonwood AD, that’s when you see them make a quantum leap. 

“You’re beginning to see teams fall into our traps,” said Southwick of the Colts who went 6-4 in the preseason but purposely scheduled schools like 5A Timpview and 6A Taylorsville to “see where we stood.” 

What Cottonwood (10-4) found out was that they belonged. That, when the Colts stopped employing things like half-court and 3/4 and full-court traps and forcing their will upon teams it was when the game slowed down and they trusted their instincts to let opposing teams fall into their traps. 

After the Colts were pasted at Timpview 66-18 but nearly knocked off T-Ville, they reeled off four straight wins to wrap up their preseason.  

“I think they’re beginning to realize just how good they are,” Southwick said. “And that goes not only for the players, but also the coaches.” 

To coach Tess Soracco’s credit, she has been consistent in not allowing any media to interview her. Maybe that comes from her feistiness—maybe from the work ethic she’s instilled in her players. 

There’s a beauty to sticking to your roots, that comes from allowing your players to find themselves by wearing different colors of hair at games yet being an absolute taskmaster and stickler to the basics of basketball. 

If junior Alivia Hutton wants to wear blue hair, so be it—but she’s also the team’s unofficial leader and has been since she was an unknown fighting, literally, for more minutes early last season by diving for loose balls and taking charges. Now that Hutton’s a junior she’s still the first person you’ll meet at mid-court—just like her fiery head coach. 

Oftentimes, you’ll see both of them there at the same time, both in a defensive stance with their palms out—both daring you to fall into their trap. 

Hutton had a season-high nine points in Cottonwood’s win over Payson Jan. 12. As the Colts rumble across the court most nights, it’s others who get the credit in the box scores—names like senior Ali Tripp and sophomore Avea Van Der Beek and freshman Carley Caton, even. But on this night, it was Hutton’s, and so there was a poetic justice in that. 

In Cottonwood’s showdown against bitter crosstown rivals Hillcrest Jan. 10, the Colts won the game by the football score of 46-6. It wasn’t that long ago that Cottonwood was scoring in single digits over the course of an entire game, but times have changed.  

Up 21-0 with 3:38 to play in the first half after Soracco called a time out, the PA announcer knew better than to zoom in on the coach or her players, so he fixed that camera just as hard as he could on the scoreboard. 

Once play resumed, and the Colts weren’t as successful luring more Huskies into their secret lair as they had been over the first 16 minutes, the rivals got three points before halftime and Soracco subbed half of her starting lineup to send a message to them.

Meanwhile, at the free throw line, Cottonwood’s crosstown rivals had their hands placed firmly upon their hips—the universal signal for total exhaustion. They already had committed nine fouls; none of it mattered. 

What mattered is that the Colts were 4-0 in Region 7 at press time, and they’re doing most of it by going eight-deep on their rosters on average with players you’ve never heard of.