Cottonwood girls basketball’s magical season ends with a region title, trip to stateApr 05, 2023 02:45PM ● By Brian Shaw
The Colts were region champs beating teams like Hillcrest before losing in double overtime in the playoffs. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
It was a magical ride for the Cottonwood High girls basketball team, according to head coach Teresa Soracco.
“Winning Region 7 was a great accomplishment, and it was awesome to have both the boys and the girls teams achieve that this season,” Soracco said. “These girls are an amazing group that represent our program, the school and the community in a positive light.”
The Cottonwood [17-6] girls came from all walks of life; they were filled with determination—like junior guard Alivia Hutton who is known for her tough-as-nails defense.
Hutton’s No. 13 jersey was always the first Colt you’d see if you were the opponent as she’d dare you to continue your dribble into her secret lair with her palms out. The junior was known for her steals  as much as rebounds , this season.
Standing next to Hutton literally and figuratively in terms of ferocity and guile was junior Ciel Budge, who wore that No. 1 jersey, the one who took a vicious elbow into the ribs against Payson on Cottonwood’s home gym and had to come out of the game.
Budge’s 67 steals led the team and epitomized the Colts’ never-say-die spirit that permeated throughout the locker room and irritated the camera operator so much that he’d often aim his camera on the scoreboard between timeouts.
If you were able to make it past Hutton and Budge, that only meant that you were playing right into the hands of the sister combo of forwards—senior Ali Tripp and her younger sister, sophomore Ashlyn.
Ali had just as many steals as several of Cottonwood’s guards , but the senior Tripp was often out in transition on the wing first and was Cottonwood’s leading scorer [18.6 points per game], having benefited most from these full-court traps that were so carefully woven.
Ashlyn was larger in size compared to Ali but tough enough that the sophomore played the last part of the season with a plastic mask attached to her face after having taken a nasty shot to her noggin. Suffice it to say that you really didn’t wanna go down her block, either [she had 30 steals and 73 rebounds as well].
But, if you made it all the way past Cottonwood’s two top leaders in steals, and past the sister duo of the Tripps, you were now stuck inside the painted area and the lair of the three bigs.
Depending on the moment, the dastardly operation was overseen by either senior center Kennedy Covili [3.3 rebounds per game], sophomore Avea Van Der Beek [4.2] or Carley Caton [4.6] who was a freshman—but it didn’t matter who because if you put the ball up in their area chances were pretty good that any of the three bigs were going to get to it first.
Off the bench, Cottonwood had some key contributors as well, players like junior Kya Budge who, in the same Payson game that Ciel took a shot to the ribs, was one of Cottonwood’s top scorers with seven points.
In the game on Feb. 10 versus Tooele that clinched the Region 7 crown for Cottonwood, senior Rio Barrowes had six assists that night, senior Chloe Farnsworth three rebounds and senior Olivia H. Solomone two points on Senior Night, indeed a fitting way to go out on top.
But if it wasn’t for head coach Soracco, the mastermind behind the whole operation, none of this would have occurred in the first place. As legends often do however tip their cap to everyone else except for themselves so too did the Colts’ head coach.
"I am extremely proud of how hard our team worked this year. They came in every day and pushed hard to improve in practice and never gave up during games. While we didn’t end the season the way we wanted it to they fought in our last game to the very end sending us into overtime,” said Soracco of the Colts’ season-ending loss, a 56-53 OT thriller to Spanish Fork in the 5A second round.
“They never once gave up. They played with heart and grit. They are a great group of girls and had a tremendous season. They worked as a team and in the end that hard work paid off. We are all so grateful for the support we felt from the community,” Soracco said. “I was incredibly lucky to be able to coach this group."