The Grantsville girls basketball team made history last season, finishing third at the Class 3A state tournament this past February to represent the Cowboys’ highest finish at a state tournament in program history.
But with most of that team returning for this season, the Cowboys are looking to take the next step and compete for Grantsville’s first-ever girls basketball championship.
“We finished really strong, and our goal is to just build off of that,” said Hannah Butler, one of Grantsville’s three seniors.
Grantsville posted a 19-6 record last season, sharing the Region 13 championship with perennial powerhouse Morgan. The Cowboys went on to beat Manti and South Sevier in the first two games of the state tournament before a tough loss to Emery in the semifinals ended their state title hopes. GHS routed Juab in the third-place game.
That’s a far cry from where the Cowboys’ program was just a few seasons ago. When Butler and fellow seniors Addison Smith and Madison Fields were freshmen, the Cowboys hadn’t had a winning season since 2009. But, slowly but surely, they’ve seen Grantsville rise to become one of the top teams in Class 3A.
“In seventh grade (assistant coach) Andrew (Vera) started our team and the high school team was not very good,” Smith said. “To see it changing and slowly getting better has been amazing and to be a part of it has been great.”
Fields, who tied Butler for the team lead with an average of 9.2 points per game last season, said while the Cowboys are proud of what they accomplished in 2017-18, they’re hoping for more this time around.
“Coming in my freshman year, we won a few games,” Fields said. “Sophomore year, we really turned it around — we had a winning record and we were going into state. Last year, we did what no Grantsville team has done — we went to state and we took third. This year, we’re expecting more from this group.
“We’re just ready to go. It was a long offseason. We didn’t finish quite how we wanted to, so we took the whole offseason and prepared. We’re ready.”
Cowboys coach Megan Vera said the leadership provided by her three seniors, as well as junior co-captain Ashlee Edwards, will be a key to Grantsville’s success.
“I think our leadership gives us an edge this year,” she said. “They do a good job — it’s like we have three extra coaches on the floor with our seniors. They’re saying the right things and saying exactly what the coaches would say.
“Our upperclassmen have more varsity experience than any group we’ve ever had, but our young kids are still very young as far as experience goes.”
Edwards leads a strong group of juniors, having averaged 8.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game last year. Sophomore Maison White (4.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) also brings valuable varsity experience to the table. Kylee Thomas, Callie Killian and Laura Sandberg all saw limited varsity action last season, but will likely be called upon to play bigger roles this year.
That will be crucial early in the season as the Cowboys play a stacked preseason schedule. There are road games against Bear River, Kearns, Stansbury, Canyon View and Cedar, along with home games against Tooele, Mountain Crest, East and Logan. Hurricane is also on the schedule.
“We want to be able to play the toughest games that we can because we know that state’s not going to be easy,” Vera said. “We want to be prepared mentally and physically come the state tournament. At the same time, we just feel like our girls are ready to compete and they’re ready to play at that level.”
Grantsville opened its season Tuesday night at Delta. The Cowboys’ first home game is Dec. 4 against Tooele.