The first day of the Utah Autism Foundation Holiday Classic featured a pair of Tooele County squads doing battle, as Tooele and Grantsville renewed their rivalry Thursday afternoon at Olympus High School in Millcreek.
The game two days after Christmas was an important test for both squads — for Tooele, it was a chance to get on a roll before Region 11 play starts next week, and for Grantsville, it was an opportunity to break a long losing streak. In the end, Tooele was too much for its cross-county rival, routing the Cowboys 76-45 thanks to a 30-point explosion in the second quarter.
Tooele led 15-7 after the first quarter, but the Buffaloes’ perimeter shooting came to life in the second quarter as THS took control. Josh Wilkins hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the period, while Canyon Christensen also knocked down two shots from long range as the Buffs built a 24-point halftime advantage.
The Buffs outscored the Cowboys in every quarter, and held Grantsville without a made 3-pointer. They also shot an impressive 20-for-25 (80 percent) from the free-throw line, while Grantsville was 15-for-19 (78.9 percent).
Wilkins led all scorers with 18 points and Christensen had 17. Justin Rogers added 15 points, including a dunk and senior Nathan Swan had nine. Gavin Ware had six, Trevor Zaleski had four, Clay Freeman had three and Braden Hogan and Julian Mahoe each had two.
Jackson Sandberg had nine points for Grantsville, while Seth Beckett had seven and Carter Killian had six. Isaac Riding had five, Jake Cafarelli and Izaiah Sanders each had four, Jeffrey Yadon had three, Kayden Bohman and Gauge Pyne each had two and Ammon Bartley had one.
Tooele 60, Desert Hills 49
Tooele never trailed in an impressive victory over the Thunder, building a 15-point lead late in the first half and never allowing Desert Hills to get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“Hopefully, we can take this momentum and carry it into region,” Tooele coach Jed Thomas said. “Desert Hills is a phenomenal team. They’ve got a lot of tremendous athletes and we did a good job keeping them in front. That was kind of our focus.”
With Wilkins sidelined with an injury, the Buffs (5-3) still had plenty of firepower to beat a Desert Hills squad playing its second game of the day and third in 24 hours. Swan had 17 points and hit three 3-pointers, while Freeman dominated down low and scored 15 points and Rogers added 11 with his ability to score inside and outside.
“We’ve just really focused on our defense, and that’s created a lot of offensive opportunities for us,” Thomas said. “It’s starting to click for us. Clay (Freeman) had a monster game — boy, he really stepped up. Nate (Swan) shot the ball extremely well. The thing I love about Nate is that it’s not always about his shot. He does the little things, getting dirty, getting rebounds and those are the things that help us win. His shooting’s just an added bonus.”
Christensen had eight points for Tooele. Hogan had four, Brandon Vorwaller had three and Ware had two.
Tooele faced Alta on Saturday and Skyline on Monday to wrap up the four-day tournament at Olympus. The Buffaloes have a non-region home game Wednesday against Morgan, with the Region 11 opener looming on Friday at Bonneville.
Skyline 68, Grantsville 53
Grantsville suffered its 10th loss in a row Friday night, falling to Class 5A Skyline in a game the Cowboys trailed by just seven points with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter.
“The effort was there,” Grantsville coach Bryan Detweiler said. “(Friday), there were some good things. We’ve still got to work some things on out and figure out a couple glaring things that are issues, but I thought we competed. The rest, I’ve got to get them into the gym for practice and hammer a bunch of fundamental things.”
The Cowboys (1-10) found their touch from the perimeter, knocking down eight 3-pointers. Nobody was more dangerous from long-range than Bohman, who drained five 3-pointers from the corner and scored a team-high 17 points. Killian had 13 points with two 3-pointers.
“It was a lot more fluid basketball,” Detweiler said. “The ball was coming low-to-high, inside-out. It just looked a lot better than (Thursday).”
Sandberg had nine points for Grantsville and Bartley had six. Riding had four points, Beckett had three and Davin Ekins had one.
The Cowboys didn’t play in the tournament on Saturday. They faced Herriman in the tournament finale on Monday. Grantsville will play host to Real Salt Lake Academy on Friday, with a road game Jan. 7 at Merit Academy before the Region 13 opener Jan. 9 at South Summit.