The playoffs are pressure-packed and only the strong survive and move on.
The Tooele High boys and Grantsville High girls hoops teams found themselves in the heat of postseason pressure Friday and Saturday respectively.
Both local basketball squads met formidable and talented foes on the hardwoods and never could quite seize total command of their respective state playoff games.
However, each team reached back for pivotal experience and poise that had been collected and gained with tough pre-season and regular season slates and each reaps the rewards of facing adversity and tough opponents during tough times in each game during the weekend.
For Tooele to even be hosting Friday’s Class 3A state playoff against Granite was remarkable. The Buffs needed remarkable and thrilling come-from-behind victories twice in 72 hours just to force a coin toss for home court during the post-season affair.
But the Buffs rallied from six-point deficits twice in just a matter of days to register pivotal league victories over Ben Lomond (Feb. 9) and at Bear River (Feb. 11) in overtime to just to have a 50 percent chance of hosting Granite on a coin toss. Those two tough, hard fought and grueling wins and a tough preseason string of hard fought losses prepared Tooele for a gritty Farmer squad that gave the Buffs everything they had.
In the end, Tooele showed the poise and overall team balance and depth to overcome the pesky Granite squad in the clutch when it mattered.
The same could be said for Grantsville. The Cowgirls relished post-season play last winter for the first time in years. However, Grantsville seemed to be just satisfied and complacent to get there.
But not on Saturday. The hungry Grantsville squad took it to the favored and ranked Wasatch squad and matched the Lady Wasps intensity with a stingy and stellar defensive overall performance in the final two quarters.
In spite of early foul trouble, where five players recorded two fouls each, including all three of the Cowgirls leading scorers on the season, Grantsville relied on its overall team production of key reserve play and balance to stay in the game early. Indeed, the team’s poise and character kept the team close enough to make a run in the third and final frames and take control down the stretch. Indeed only the strong and poised survive, and the tough get going when playoffs and post-season rolls around.
Tooele and Grantsville both proved that and another pair of local teams, Dugway and Wendover will need the same to advance in their Class 1A State tournament in just two weeks.