Stansbury girls basketball coach Kenzie Newton knew her team was in for a challenging preseason, but it wasn’t the fact that the Stallions lost 53-36 to Olympus on Thursday night at home that had her frustrated afterward.
Rather, it was the way the Stallions played, especially once they got behind, that led to a lengthy postgame conversation in the locker room after they were outscored 36-22 in the second half.
“I want to coach the X’s and O’s and execution, and I don’t want to have to coach effort,” Newton said. “I think that’s one thing that we said tonight — you’ve got to bring it even if you’re getting beat in preseason. You’ve got to take every minute and use it to your advantage. I thought there were moment where we were like, ‘well, we’re defeated,’ and that’s not what preseason’s about. It has nothing to do with the record, it’s ‘are we getting better every possession?’”
The Stallions (1-1) struggled from the field in the first half, but were able to keep pace with the Titans (1-2) with strong defensive play. That changed in the second half, when breakdowns in Stansbury’s man-to-man defense in halfcourt sets and porous transition defense led to too many easy baskets for Olympus.
“Olympus did a good job — they definitely made the extra pass against our defense,” Newton said. “Our ‘help the helper’ wasn’t there. Our help initially wasn’t horrible, but then they made that extra pass. Our transition defense did not look good tonight, so that will definitely be an emphasis for us in practice.”
Stansbury trailed by three points at halftime despite scoring just four points in the second quarter. But Olympus opened the quarter with a 16-6 run over the first five minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers by Jackie Soltis, to build a 13-point advantage. The Stallions closed to within seven points late in the quarter as Kayla Alvey and Kenzi Knudsen combined for a quick 7-2 run, but that’s as close as the score got the rest of the game.
The Stallions went cold again in the fourth quarter, scoring just six points while Olympus scored 14.
Alvey led Stansbury with 12 points as the only Stallion to reach double-figures. Kalee Philips, Knudsen, Madi Welch and Mackenna Sargent each scored four, Payten Staley and Ainsley Thurber had three and Malia Tia had two.
Freshman Alyssa Blanck led Olympus with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Monet Clough had 13 points and Taygin DeHart had 11 for Olympus.
Things won’t get any easier for the Stallions this week as their tough preseason schedule continues. After a game at Skyridge that was not complete at press time Tuesday, Stansbury will return home to face county rival Grantsville on Thursday.
“Hopefully, they respond,” Newton said. “We’ve got some tough games this next week. We just need to compete hard in every game and things will go our way down the line, I think.”