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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood coach reflects on last time Colts reached the quarterfinals

Apr 05, 2023 02:40PM ● By Travis Barton

For Cottonwood boys basketball coach Marc Miller, it was his first trip to the unmistakable domelike structure that is the Dee Events Center in Ogden. 

It ended with a 50-47 loss to Timpview in the 5A state quarterfinal, but it was a season of many firsts for coach Miller—and for Cottonwood’s players who were among the state’s best in several statistical categories. 

“We had all five starters average double figures, Kirath Makhar led the state in assists, Chris Cox was one of the leading scorers in 5A and Max Russo was one of the top 3-point shooters in 5A,” said Miller of his 2022-23 Colts who went 23-2 and won the Region 7 title. “We enjoyed a 22-game winning streak, went undefeated in region and finished second in the final 5A RPI rankings.” 

For Donovan Malmrose though, this Colts team that he watched—and on which he was an assistant until he was hired as Cottonwood’s head football coach in January—had many similarities to the Colts team he played on back in the 2006-07 season. 

According to Malmrose, the Colts hit their stride midway through that 2006-07 season and did not lose a game in region play the rest of the way en route to a region title. They also had a potential All-State candidate in junior Anthony Skalabrin who was to the 12-9 Colts in 2006-07 what junior Cox is to the 2023 team. 

Malmrose’s 2007 team had Marcus Dahle, who was one of the state’s top three-point shooters—a la senior Russo. And, they of course had Malmrose who was Cottonwood’s point guard—just like the senior you all know and love in dynamic Makhar.

Like Makhar, Malmrose’s Cottonwood basketball journey ended in the Dee Events Center. Like a funnel directing all of your attention onto that basketball court, the domelike structure has hosted great events. 

Within its confines, a Weber State University tennis coach once staged a 12-hour-long sit-a-thon in all of the arena’s 11,592 purple seats to raise money for his tennis team.  

There have been many coaches who stamped their legacies and barked out orders here—including the late and great Jim Valvano back in 1983 during the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional. 

Utah Jazz legend Thurl “Big T” Bailey himself played on Valvano’s NC State team that eventually won the national championship. 

“Big T” Bailey assuredly heard some sharp words from coach “Jimmy V” Valvano during a timeout—like Malmrose did from his Cottonwood coach [Blair Martineau] at the time, as he recounted to the City Journals the Colts’ 2007 trip to the Dee. 

“Honestly, it’s a rough memory…Coming down to the end of the game we were down 1, I made a layup with maybe 10 seconds left,” Malmrose recalled.

According to Dee statisticians, there were 12 seconds left on the clock in Cottonwood’s 4A quarterfinal game against Mountain Crest on Feb. 22, 2007. 

“We didn’t get the job done on the defensive end, they missed their shot but got a tip in off the miss,” Malmrose said.     

“With only 6.2 seconds left we called a timeout; [we] agreed Anthony Skalabrin should get the opportunity, but having to go the length of the floor with little time left was tough and we couldn’t convert.” 

Malmrose scored four points for Cottonwood that game and had a handful of assists in the Colts’ 44-43 loss—their last trip to the Dee Events Center until this year. 


Like Makhar and many great athletes before this 2023 team, they’ve all dropped to the floor in disbelief that it ended but also with a sense of awe at the fact that they’ve actually had an opportunity to play at the Dee. 


For Malmrose, who was Cottonwood’s lone senior starter on a team laden with juniors, he did the same when it was all said and done. 


“I laid on the floor after and couldn’t believe what happened, couldn’t get myself up off the floor.” 


But when he did, the then 17-year-old Malmrose dusted himself off and walked to the legendary locker room where Randy Rahe once consoled Damian Lillard a time or two. Looking back, Malmrose has nothing but fond memories of the boys he waged battle with and like the 2022-23 squad were just one play away from making it to the Final Four. 


“I had some great teammates that I was blessed to take the floor with that year (Daney Nelson Sr., Taylor Allen, Skalabrin, Ben Canevari and Dahle)…every one of them that started with me were juniors,” he said.  


“And coach Martineau was basically another father for me, pushed me to my limits, held me accountable, but showed his love and trust towards me. Definitely a tough memory after having such a successful end of the regular season,” Malmrose said. “But was grateful I had the opportunity to learn and grow with some great teammates and coach.”