Friday night’s girls basketball game between Grantsville and Richfield was a rematch of last season’s Class 3A state semifinal.
It also served as a lesson for the young Cowboys, who learned just how much work there is left to do in order to reach that level again.
The visiting Wildcats opened the game on a 12-2 run and seized control with a 22-5 spurt in the middle of the contest, handing Grantsville a 50-38 defeat — the Cowboys’ first loss of the 2019-20 season.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to come out and respond and see what we can do,” Grantsville coach Megan Vera said. “We’ve faced some adversity in games, but in the past, we’ve ended up on top at the end. This is a great learning opportunity. If it was going to happen, this is the time for it to happen, and we need to learn, move on and do better in the future.”
The Cowboys (11-1) found themselves in a 10-point hole just five minutes into the contest, thanks to the efforts of Richfield’s Jarica Steck and Sippola Vakautakakala. Those two combined for 13 of the Wildcats’ 14 first-quarter points and 11 of their first 12.
However, Grantsville junior center Maison White pulled the Cowboys back into the game by scoring the game’s next eight points as Grantsville closed the gap to 12-10 with 58 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Cowboys eventually tied the game at 14-14 on late baskets by Laura Sandberg and McKenzie Allen before the quarter expired.
Grantsville senior guard Ashlee Edwards drained a pair of deep 3-pointers as part of a personal 8-0 run to open the second quarter, giving Grantsville a 22-14 lead and capping a 20-2 Cowboys run that lasted 5:50. Things started to shift back in the Wildcats’ favor, though, when White went to the bench with her second foul during that burst.
“When (White) got into foul trouble, that kind of got us out of sync on offense,” Vera said. “From there, we lost energy, I think.”
The Wildcats (9-3) only allowed one point over the final 5:10 of the first half, while Grantsville committed four turnovers. Richfield’s Passion Reitz scored nine of her 13 points during a 13-1 run to end the second quarter, and Amanda Oldroyd also nailed a 3-pointer as the Wildcats took a 27-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Richfield’s lead swelled to 10 points in the third quarter as Grantsville’s offensive woes continued. The Cowboys managed just seven points in the third period, and just 15 in the second half. Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ offense kept rolling behind Steck and Vakautakakala, who scored all 12 of Richfield’s points in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats led by as many as 16 points before settling for a 12-point margin of victory.
“I think (Richfield) just played harder and they played with more confidence,” Vera said. “We still have kids that are playing a bit timid and feeling things out, which we can’t do. They just played better than we did.”
White had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Grantsville. Edwards had 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Allen finished with two points and seven rebounds. Sandberg had two points and Ellie Thomas and Kylee Thomas each scored one.
Reitz and Steck each had 13 points and Vakautakakala added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Richfield. Steck had six rebounds, five steals and three assists, and Reitz had seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Freshman Nicole Willardson added five points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Wildcats.
Grantsville played host to Morgan in its Region 13 opener Tuesday night after press time. The Cowboys will face South Summit in another region game Thursday in Kamas.