It’s winter break for local high school students, and that means for the next few days, area gymnasiums will be mostly silent.
It also means we’ve reached our first major measuring stick of the 2018-19 winter sports season: we’re nearing the end of the preseason and region games are just around the corner.
So, that begs the question: where do the boys and girls from Tooele, Stansbury and Grantsville stand at this point? What has gone right? What hasn’t gone so well? What is their long-term outlook with the state tournament looming in two months?
All three girls basketball teams have shown positive signs through the first month of the season. Grantsville has the best win-loss record at 6-2, but one of the Cowboys’ losses is to Stansbury. The Stallions are 3-4, but they’ve faced a gauntlet of a preseason schedule that includes games against Lehi, Green Canyon, Olympus and Skyridge in addition to the aforementioned Grantsville game. Tooele took its lumps in losing its first two games of the season to Green Canyon and Grantsville, but has since won four in a row.
The Cowboys, Stallions and Buffaloes have all had their ups and downs, but the future looks bright for all three. Grantsville is the favorite to win the Region 13 title, and while the Cowboys haven’t played their best ball yet, it’s hard to find a reason why they won’t earn that coveted No. 1 seed come state tournament time. Stansbury has had flashes of brilliance along with some inconsistent stretches, but the Stallions are showing signs of putting it all together just in time for the start of Region 11 play in January, where they were picked to win the region title. Tooele should contend for a postseason berth as well — and could even earn home-court advantage in the first round as the middle of Region 11 appears wide open.
On the boys’ side of things, it has been a struggle so far. Tooele is at .500 with a 3-3 record so far, while Stansbury and Grantsville have just one win each. While preseason games are all about improvement as teams prepare for the region season — the only season that really matters when it comes to playoff positioning — you’d have to think that this isn’t the start any of them hoped for.
Fortunately, there have been bright spots. Tooele’s Justin Rogers is already a star as a sophomore, and seniors Josh Wilkins and Nathan Swan are exciting to watch. The addition of Peyton Thevenot has given Stansbury a high-end scorer with a sweet stroke from the perimeter, and a young Grantsville squad is starting to find its footing on the offensive end of the floor.
That said, it won’t be easy for these three teams come region. Tooele and Stansbury are in the same region with strong teams from Juan Diego and Bonneville, meaning there is less of a margin for error in games between the Buffs and Stallions along with Park City, Ben Lomond and Ogden with those five teams battling for two playoff spots. Grantsville faces a similar challenge in Region 13, with Morgan, Judge and Summit Academy usually among Class 3A’s elite and South Summit boasting an athletic roster filled with the same cast of characters that won the Class 2A football state title this fall.
Nothing has been decided yet, and that might be the biggest gift for these squads. Come the start of 2019, everyone will have a clean slate and everything will be up for grabs.
Bring it on.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He feels like the upcoming region season is like a Christmas gift yet to be unwrapped. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.