The Grantsville girls basketball team wanted to set the pace in Saturday afternoon’s rivalry game against Tooele in an effort to keep the Buffaloes from playing their typical low-scoring, grind-it-out style.
Thanks to an aggressive defense that led to multiple easy baskets in transition, the Cowboys were able to do just that. Grantsville outscored Tooele 18-6 in the first quarter and never trailed in a dominating 58-25 win over the Buffaloes at Grantsville High School as the Cowboys collected their seventh victory in a row.
“We always want to come out and kind of get a jump on our opponent,” Grantsville coach Megan Vera said. “We thought our defense would be a big piece in setting the tone and kind of picking up the tempo from Tooele’s slow style that they usually like to play. We were hoping our defense would do it, and it was super effective. Our girls did a good job anticipating passes and really flying around.”
The Cowboys (10-2) forced 10 Tooele turnovers in the opening quarter and opened the game on a 14-2 run. Emily Backus and Maison White combined for 14 points in the first quarter, with Backus and Ellie Thomas wreaking havoc by picking off steal after steal. Tooele (4-7, 1-1 Region 10) started the second quarter strong, closing the gap to 22-14 behind six quick points from senior Emma Higley, but the Cowboys scored the final six points of the period to take a 28-14 halftime lead.
White and Backus then put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring Tooele 18-3 to extend the lead to 29 points. Grantsville opened the second half with 10 unanswered points before Aysha Lewis hit a 3-pointer to snap Tooele’s drought with 3:41 left in the third quarter, but the game was well out of hand by that point.
“It’s always a good rivalry game against Tooele and we always want to get that ‘W’ — not only get the ‘W,’ but win strong and play really well,” Vera said. “Mentally and physically, I think we’re really prepared going into region.”
With such a big lead, Vera was able to empty her bench in the fourth quarter. Ryann Williams hit a pair of free throws for her first career varsity points, while Brylee Castagno got her name on the varsity score sheet for the first time by knocking down a corner 3-pointer.
White had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Cowboys, who played without regular starting point guard Kenzie Allen. Backus helped make up for Allen’s absence with 19 points and six steals as her aggressive defense helped spark Grantsville, whose 58 points were the most by a Tooele opponent this season.
“I think our defense is really starting to click for her,” Vera said of Backus. “She’s starting to anticipate more and really create on defense.”
Thomas had five points, four assists and seven steals for Grantsville. Zoey Cloward had five points, Emily Ware and Castagno each had three, Williams had two and Maddie Martin scored one point.
Higley led Tooele with 14 points, and Lewis added five. Rylie Hogan, Breanna Beer and Zada Jackson each scored two points for the Buffs.
Grantsville played host to Providence Hall in its Region 13 opener Tuesday night after press time. The Cowboys will travel to Morgan for a region game Thursday night, while Tooele will play host to Region 10 foe Ben Lomond.