Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

January 30, 2014
Grantsville boys find themselves chasing region crown

It’s good to be a Cowboy right about now.

The Grantsville Cowboys put themselves in prime position to possibly win the region championship in boys basketball with back-to-back blowout wins against rival opponents Stansbury and Tooele. Now, the Cowboys get their rematch with Bear River on Friday.

The Cowboys suffered a four-point loss at home to the Bears on Jan. 15, and at that time I thought they were done. On paper, they had the weakest non-region schedule. Surely Tooele’s matchups with 4A and 5A opponents were more impressive, right? I was dead wrong.

After knocking off Ben Lomond by 12 points a week ago on the road, the Cowboys not only beat their two cross-town rivals, but they also obliterated them. Grantsville defeated Stansbury by 25 points and Tooele by 22 to set up a colossal rematch with the Bear River Bears — a potential region championship on the line.

Indeed, loading up with experience is proving to be the right strategy, as the two teams with the most seniors on their rosters are the two teams running the tables in Region 11. Bear River has seven seniors, and Grantsville has eight seniors.

So what will the Cowboys do? Are these the real Cowboys or were the past two games simply a case of playing with extra momentum against rivals? Considering how close Bear River and Grantsville played in the 51-47 game Jan. 15, I’d lean toward this three-game winning streak being a real representation of what the Cowboys are capable of doing. But I’ve been wrong just as often as I’ve been right.

 

DIRE STRAIGHTS IN STANSBURY AND TOOELE

The Stansbury Stallions and Tooele Buffaloes might be the two most inconsistent boys basketball teams I’ve ever seen.

Just when you get excited about them, they both manage to let you down in mind-boggling ways. Wins by both of them Wednesday night would have created a three-way tie for second place with Grantsville, something that would have been a lot of fun to watch during the final four games of region play. Instead, the Buffaloes got trounced by the Cowboys, and the Stallions let Ben Lomond — originally considered an afterthought in Region 11 — suddenly become a contender for one of the two final spots in the state tournament.

Now, the final four games of region will still be fun to watch because Stansbury and Tooele still both very much control their own destinies to get into the state tournament. Each game from here on out for both teams should be considered playoff games because one loss could mean the difference between third place and last place.

With frightening road trips to St. George looming for either one or both of these teams to open the state tournament, it’s time for them to get their acts together. I can promise you those St. George student sections are relentless, AND THEY NEVER STOP GETTING AFTER YOU! I should know. My graduating class created Snow Canyon’s “Jungle.”

If you can’t win at home against Ben Lomond, what makes you think you’re going to beat Pine View or Snow Canyon on the road? Stansbury and Tooele have four games to right their ships and get ready for those two opponents.

 

LADY STALLIONS’ QUEST FOR 8-0

The Stansbury Stallions girls basketball team plays on the road Thursday night against Ben Lomond. The Stallions went 4-0 in the first round robin of the Region 11 schedule, including a 55-17 drubbing of Ben Lomond on Jan. 14.

Winners of seven of their last nine games dating back to the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic in Cedar City, Stansbury continues to play well when the region schedule starts. I should stop panicking when Stansbury gets off to slow starts after playing against tough non-region opponents because as soon as the games start mattering for the state tournament, Stansbury starts winning. This time, it’s looking at a region championship.

The toughest game remaining is the rematch on the road against Bear River on Thursday, Feb. 6, but don’t overlook the Tooele Lady Buffaloes on Tuesday. The Lady Buffs have some momentum after wins against Grantsville and Ben Lomond.

With Baylee Hansen back in the lineup, the Lady Buffs have some mismatch opportunities they could exploit against the Stallions. I personally would have Shyan Adams guarding Hansen the entire game. That seems like Stansbury’s best option defensively to contain the dangerous Hansen.

 

JUST GET HOT AT THE RIGHT TIME

You could argue either way about the merit of taking the top four teams in a region to the state tournament out of a region of five teams.

The playoffs are guaranteed for at least two Tooele County teams in both boys and girls to make it to state, so the consequences of regular season losses aren’t as severe. However, I love that we’ll get to have at least four total state tournament basketball teams and possibly six if the teams at the bottom can hold off Ben Lomond.

Take the Tooele Lady Buffaloes, for example. This is a team loaded with juniors that will all be back next season. Girls like Taylor Thomas, Courtney Schiwal, Amber Haskell, Whitney Leakehe and Hansen have emerged as the stars of the team and show potential to compete with Stansbury and Bear River next year for the region championship. How great will it be that they’ll get at least one more game in St. George (maybe even host a playoff game if they can somehow pass Bear River or Stansbury) to add experience? Maybe getting to the postseason is just the kick the Lady Buffs need to possibly pull off a win and move on to even more games.

I look at the Tooele softball team from last year as the perfect example of a team getting hot at the right time. It picked up a win at state as the No. 4 seed in the region and got to hang around at state longer than it should have. Maybe the same can happen for Tooele girls basketball or even Grantsville girls basketball.

The Grantsville girls are loaded with so many young players. Can you imagine what postseason experience will do for them? If I were the other Region 11 schools, I’d be scared of the Grantsville girls in two years.

Richard Briggs

Community News Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Richard Briggs is community news editor, sports writer and copy editor for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin. Born in San Diego and raised in St. George, Briggs graduated with a degree in communications from Dixie State College in 2012. While there he worked three years for the college’s newspaper, the Dixie Sun, as a sports writer and sports editor. During his senior year, he was editor in chief. Briggs also is a 2005 graduate from Snow Canyon High School. From 2006 to 2008 he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints in Kentucky. As community news editor, Briggs writes, edits and manages editorial and photographic content for the Transcript-Bulletin’s inside pages and sections, including Hometown and Bulletin Board.

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