Skip to main content

South Salt Lake Journal

Colts fall in second round after second consecutive region title

Apr 12, 2024 01:37PM ● By Brian Shaw

The Colts earned the No. 4 seed in the state tournament after winning the Region 10 title. (Photo courtesy Teresa Soracco)

Cottonwood High junior Avea Van der Beek grabbed her teammate, sophomore Carley Caton, in the painted area to reassure her after Caton had been fouled hard late in the 4A second round by a Desert Hills player. 

Moments later, Van der Beek calmly walked up to the foul line in the fourth quarter of this do-or-die game at Cottonwood Feb. 22, and swished a free throw. It tied the ballgame at 48-48 with :08.4 to play. 

The leading scorer for the Colts, Van der Beek has been through the ringer the past two months for reasons many are familiar with. 

Nobody needs to get into those reasons but they’re there—same as the law enforcement agencies providing extra armed security at all four entry points to Cottonwood High’s gymnasium. 

But, people either have character or they don’t; they can either step up during arguably the most stressful situation any student in high school could’ve ever dreamed of having and let that do the talking rather than other things. 

That’s what the Colts did and so did Van der Beek, who never asked for any of this noise. Though the scoreboard will say Cottonwood lost 48-49 to Desert Hills and that the No. 4 seed was upset by No. 13 it wasn’t like that at all. 

To her credit, head coach Teresa Soracco didn’t let her words do any of the talking leading up to the 4A state tournament—she would’ve been well within her right to because it interrupted a great season for Cottonwood. 

But the Colts, who earned a share of the Region 10 title with Jordan, wouldn’t go down without a momentous battle inside their own gym. After the fact, Coach Soracco had some time to reflect on a great year for her Colts. 

“We had an incredibly successful season this year, marking a historic milestone as back-to-back region champions for the first time in our school’s history,” Soracco said. “This achievement speaks volumes about the dedication and talent of our team.”

They trailed 5-11 after one quarter—but fought back, scoring 17 second quarter points to keep their deficit at six points, 22-28. 

In the third quarter, Van der Beek began finding her range, knocking down two key jumpers. Her teammate, senior Alivia Hutton was already doing all that the fiery guard could to keep the Colts in the fight—her game-high 18 points that led Cottonwood attested to that resolve and got the Colts within four to end the third, 35-39. 

Halfway into the fourth quarter, the Colts created several turnovers. When the visitors tried to work the ball into the paint it was the smallest player on the court in senior Ciel Budge who slapped it out of bounds under the Desert Hills basket. 

A miss from the visitors led to a three-pointer from Hutton that tied the score at 46-46. It marked the first time since the outset of this game that the Colts had been even with Desert Hills. 

Cottonwood forced another turnover with 1:23 to go when junior Ashlyn Tripp reached into the paint and grabbed a loose ball, firing it ahead to Hutton. 

With less than a minute remaining in Cottonwood’s season, Hutton dared venture among the tallest of Desert Hills’ trees, one knee bandaged and taped from an earlier injury she suffered, as she drove the lane. 

Hutton lost the handle on the ball but immediately wrestled it from one of the Desert Hills giants and tipped it to her teammate Caton as Cottonwood began its comeback. 

Caton was fouled on the play and sank one of two free throws to give the Colts their first lead of the game. On the other end, Desert Hills drove the lane and got fouled. The visitors made two to retake the lead, 47-48. 

Fouled again, this time in the act of shooting after a mad scramble for the ball under Desert Hills’ basket, Van der Beek stepped to the foul line as the place went crazy. She took a deep breath and sighed. 

You have to wonder how the junior kept it all together, honestly. In this new media age, anything sensational is immediately broadcast to the world. 

But Van der Beek spun the ball back to herself and shot—swish. The second shot missed after Van der Beek bounced the ball four times, four for the games she missed on the way to the state tournament, four for the weeks this media circus went on and four for the number of police and Cottonwood staff stationed at each of the gym’s exits, just in case. 

Van der Beek scored nine points for a Colts team that also got eight [and nine rebounds] from Caton, six points from Tripp, three from Ciel [and five assists] and two points from Kya Budge, as well as two rebounds and two steals from Bella Morris. 

The game tied 48-48, you could say with 8.4 seconds to go that Van der Beek missed one of two foul shots. 

But you’d be wrong if you did. 

“While the season might not have ended exactly as we envisioned, the girls never wavered in their resolve and fought until the very end,” said Soracco, who received an award as the best coach in Region 10 and had four players [Ciel Budge, Van Der Beek, Caton and Hutton] named to the All-Region 10 Team. “What truly stood out was their passion for improvement and their teamwork. It was an absolute pleasure to coach such a dedicated and spirited group.” λ