The 2016-17 basketball campaigns for the Grantsville, Stansbury and Tooele girls basketball teams were highlighted by this season’s rise to power for Cowboy basketball.
Going into the Class 3A playoffs, Grantsville boasted a trio of seniors who propelled the team to a two-loss season and a perfect 8-0 record to earn a Region 10 championship. Grantsville went 1-2 in the playoffs, making the Cowboys one of the best 10 teams in the state.
The Cowboys have some talented underclassmen to fill the void, but the up-and-coming youthful players from Stansbury and Tooele could easily rival those squads in the future.
The Transcript Bulletin sports staff took a look at the numbers at the conclusion of the season and came up with a list of the county’s top players. While this list is by no means all-inclusive, it does highlight the best Tooele County has to offer on the basketball court.
Most Valuable Player: Abby Butler, center, Grantsville, senior — Butler has been impressive all four seasons she’s played varsity ball, but this one was the best. Not only did she average more than 13 points and eight rebounds per game, which led the county, but she’s maintained that average throughout her career. She also averaged more than two assists and steals this season, a marked inprovement over last season’s totals. Butler is by far the best player in the county with an outside-shooting ability to go along with an inside presence.
Center: Taylor Hinds, Stansbury, freshman — Not only did Hinds lead Stansbury in scoring, she did it in a limited number of minutes. After not starting a majority of the games during the pre-region season, Hinds earned her way into the starting lineup with a 16-point performance in the win against Delta and scored a career-high 24 points against Park City. She averaged nearly 14 points per game during region play, and 2.5 steals and 4.5 rebounds a game over the course of the season.
Forward: Emily Webber, Tooele, junior — Webber was the only Buffalo to average more than 10 points per game this season. With a better supporting cast next year as Tooele improves under head coach Randy Goss, expect Webber to take a larger leading role in the region.
Forward: Rylie Ekins, Grantsville, senior — Ekins excelled in an expanded role on the perimeter with this season’s size-laden Grantsville team. She was the second-leading scorer with more than 12 points per game, also averaging more than six rebounds, two steals, two assists and a block per game. From 3-point range, she shot 38 percent with 32 made baskets.
Guard: Deanna Castillo, Stansbury, senior — Castillo shot a good percentage from the 3-point line this year, making 27 percent. That was down a bit from last year’s phenomenal numbers, but still deserving of a spot on this list. This year, she averaged more than a steal and assist per game. Her assist-to-turnover ratio, steals-to-turnover ratio and steals-per-foul ratio were all above one, making her a player who doesn’t make many mistakes.
Guard: Brayle Crosman, Grantsville, senior — Crosman is a player who, in a different program, could take over a team. As the second or third option with the Cowboys, she still averaged nearly 12 points per game and more than six boards. Crosman’s ability to score on the drive and from the foul line was invaluable to Grantsville’s four-loss season.
Coach of the Year: Megan Vera, Grantsville — In the fourth year of Vera’s tenure at Grantsville, the Cowboys have gone from perennial basement dwellers to undefeated Region 10 champions. The Cowboys lost four games all season, which included a 1-2 record in the Class 3A state playoffs. Not only has Vera built a winning team from a stellar senior class, she’s built for the future with a talented bunch of incoming sophomores.