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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood’s girls basketball team plays under coach who’s new to the sport

Mar 09, 2023 10:55AM ● By Brian Shaw

Ali Tripp and the Cottonwood Colts won the Region 7 title. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

There is definitely a pep in the girls steps these days. 

Part of it comes from being one of the worst teams in the state of Utah not so long ago, according to Cottonwood girls basketball head coach Tess Soracco. Part of it is just a sense of pride from knowing how far you’ve come as a program and that your seniors are going to win at least a share of the Region 7 title after going 1-20 as freshmen.  

“They are a special group of girls who are helping build a culture of winning, hard work, pride, dedication and heart. These girls are the heart and soul of this program, and I am incredibly proud to (have the opportunity) to coach them,” the coach said.

Playing against Payson in one of the Colts final games of the regular season Feb. 8 

They cut out inbounds entry passes and went diving for loose balls. One girl wearing the No. 1 jersey was a foot shorter than the Payson player she was matched up against, but junior Ciel Budge, the team’s fifth leading scorer, went right at this tall tree anyhow, taking an elbow to the stomach in the process. 

Trailing 29-27 at the break, you wouldn’t have even known Cottonwood was losing the game, because several players were dancing on the sidelines. 

But when the third quarter got underway, it’s as if the players got replaced by five serious hoopers, their demeanors as steely as their head coach’s. 

Yeah, Payson got the win—the only one the Colts allowed all year in Region 7 play. 

But with that 53-48 decision over The Wood, Payson probably lost at least two layers of skin on the Colts’ home basketball floor and collected a few bruises, too. 

During the game, Payson’s coach was constantly combing over what hair he had left on his head with his fingers. He’d already lost one game at home to this gritty, spirited Colts team, to begin with. 

The Colts almost made it two when senior captain Ali Tripp, the team’s leading scorer, took over in the fourth quarter (game-high 14 points), but Payson hit a run-busting three pointer with 4:24 left that ended a 9-0 Cottonwood run and secured victory. 

In the end, this singular Region 7 loss meant little in terms of Cottonwood lifting the trophy it rightfully earned. But don’t you dare tell the Colts, or little sister Ashlyn Tripp in a face mask (11 pts) that this game didn’t mean something; they fought all the way to the bitter end of that seesaw fourth quarter. 

It’s a great sign, said coach Soracco, who with the sleeves rolled up on her trademark sweater blazer made City Journals promise we wouldn’t share that her Colts were going to be Region 7 champions regardless of the team’s outcome in their final game at Uintah, Feb. 17. (After press deadline, and besides, the Colts’ athletic director Greg Southwick who was driving three hours up from his farm in Central Utah spilled the beans.) 

“I’m sorry,” said the coach who is already a legend at Cottonwood although she has yet to realize it. “I haven’t been a basketball coach for very long.”