The Grantsville girls basketball team is among the favorites to take home the Class 3A state championship this season, but they couldn’t take anything for granted going into Friday’s second-round state-tournament game against Summit Academy at USU Eastern in Price.
Sure, the third-seeded Cowboys had beaten the No. 14 Bears twice during the Region 13 season, both times in convincing fashion. But for many of Grantsville’s players, Friday was their first taste of postseason basketball, and Summit Academy wanted nothing more than to derail the Cowboys’ title dreams.
However, there was no stopping Grantsville, and, in particular, senior guard Ashlee Edwards. She did a little bit of everything, scoring a game-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds and three steals in the Cowboys’ 53-31 win. Junior center Maison White nearly had a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Laura Sandberg had eight points and four steals.
Most importantly, Grantsville (20-3) got contributions from its underclassmen, who proved that the moment wasn’t too big for them. Freshman guard McKenzie Allen had eight points and five rebounds off the bench, while fellow reserves Chloe Butler, Ellie Thomas and Maile Bartley combined for nine points, two rebounds and two steals.
Both teams started a bit slowly on offense, with Summit Academy (8-16) taking a brief 6-5 lead with 3:53 left in the opening quarter. Grantsville coach Megan Vera called a 30-second timeout shortly after, and the Cowboys came out with a renewed energy on both ends of the floor. Aggressive defense led to turnovers and quick baskets in transition, sparking a 12-0 run that extended into the second quarter. Edwards, Ellie Thomas and Kylee Thomas all had steals during that spurt, with Allen converting a three-point play, Edwards putting up seven points and White scoring on an offensive rebound.
Summit Academy briefly got back within eight points with 5:02 left in the second quarter, but a couple nice shots from Sandberg and a deep 3-pointer by Allen made up a 7-2 run to put Grantsville up 13.
Grantsville’s dominance continued in the third quarter as the Bears’ frustration boiled over. A 16-0 run put the Cowboys up 44-19 with 2:30 left, with the Summit Academy bench receiving a technical foul and two Bears fans getting ejected along the way.
The Cowboys maintained at least a 22-point lead for the final 11-plus minutes of the game, leading to extended playing time for many of Grantsville’s reserves. A dozen players in all saw the court for Grantsville, with eight scoring.
Butler had four points for the Cowboys, while Ellie Thomas had three, Kylee Thomas and Bartley each had two and Hillary Cloward scored one. Kyrie Alldredge led Summit Academy with 15 points and Kayla Hamblin had seven.
Grantsville’s victory sends it to Thursday night’s Class 3A quarterfinals, where the Cowboys will face 11th-seeded San Juan. The Broncos (12-9) upset two-time defending state champion Emery 57-55 in the second round, outscoring the Spartans 29-9 in the third quarter.
The Cowboys and Broncos will meet at 9:10 p.m. Thursday at Bruin Arena on Salt Lake Community College’s Taylorsville campus.