The last time the Stansbury girls basketball team saw its rival from Tooele, the Stallions were left disappointed and frustrated after a narrow overtime loss.
They were determined not to let that happen again, and it was a couple of their younger players who played a key role in making sure it didn’t.
Sophomore Kayla Alvey, a recent addition to Stansbury’s starting lineup, had 17 points and five steals, and fellow sophomore Taylor Hinds added 10 points as Stansbury routed Tooele 52-27 on Tuesday night at Stansbury High School. The victory puts Stansbury (14-5, 7-2 Region 11) in control of its own destiny when it comes to home-court advantage in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, and also keeps the Stallions’ hopes of a region title alive.
“We definitely had a chip on our shoulder coming into this game,” Stansbury coach Kenzie Newton said. “We didn’t play our game at Tooele, and we let them take us out of our game. Our whole motivation was that we needed to play our tempo and continue — if things weren’t going our way — to create from our defense.”
Tooele (12-7, 8-2) got off to a reasonably strong start, limiting the Stallions to just two points over a span of 4:37 to finish the first quarter with a 10-6 lead. However, Stansbury responded with a 10-0 run that included three layups by senior center Sienna Riggle and a 3-pointer by Alvey, and the Stallions were never really challenged again as the Buffaloes went ice-cold from the perimeter.
“We just didn’t get in the flow there,” Tooele coach Randy Goss said. “We weren’t hitting any shots. It was just one of those nights. We weren’t hitting any outside shots to spread the floor.”
The Stallions outscored the Buffs 16-4 in the second quarter, a run capped by a 3-pointer from Alvey, who continued her recent run of strong play. In Stansbury’s past three games — victories over Park City, Ben Lomond and Tooele — the diminutive sophomore has averaged 13.7 points per contest and has hit eight 3-pointers to go with 11 steals.
“I’m not worrying so much about the mistakes and just focusing on the positives and helping my teammates out,” Alvey said. “When I help my teammates out, then I start to do better in my game.”
Stansbury’s onslaught continued into the third quarter, with the Stallions’ energy level remaining quite high. Late in the third quarter, with her team already up by 19 points, Stallions reserve center McKenna Sargent hustled to throw the ball out of bounds off a Tooele defender and then scored a layup on the ensuing inbounds play, bringing all of her teammates on the bench to their feet.
“’Sarge’ came in with some energy,” Newton said. “That’s the fun part of basketball — the ‘and-ones’ and throwing it off someone’s leg to get your team another possession.”
Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, Tooele couldn’t get anything going. Senior center Emily Webber had 16 points and didn’t get much in the way of support until the final minutes, when the outcome had long been decided. Turnovers that led to easy transition points were also a sore point for the Buffs.
“We shot 20 percent from the outside, maybe,” Goss said. “Of (Stansbury’s) first eight points, six of them were off stupid passes that we made.”
Riggle finished with eight points for Stansbury. Kalee Philips had five, Sargent and junior Kaylee Castillo each had three, Kenzi Knudsen and Madi Welch had two and Mia Thurber and Peyton Staley each scored a single point.
“We had intensity in practice all week long, and we knew that we had to get this game,” Alvey said. “That last loss (to Tooele) motivated us, and we’re motivated to finish out region with wins.”
Makenna Baker had three points in the loss for Tooele, while Abby Webber, Blake Hervat, Mallory Searle and Shaylie Davis each scored two.
Both teams are headed into the home stretch of the regular season. Stansbury traveled to Draper to face Juan Diego in a region game that was not complete at press time Thursday night. The Stallions will host Bonneville on Tuesday before their season finale next Thursday at Ogden.
“This region — it’s been competitive,” Newton said. “There’s been some games that you’re kind of, ‘that was a closer game than I thought it was going to be.’ On any given night, anybody can beat anybody and we just need to finish strong.”
Tooele will play host to Juan Diego on Tuesday. The Buffs’ regular-season finale is Thursday at Bonneville, a game that could be filled with playoff seeding implications.
“We’ll learn from this,” Goss said. “We’re still OK. We’ve just got to rebuild, come back and take care of the last two games.”