There’s some good basketball being played in Tooele County these days, and we have the girls squads from Stansbury, Grantsville and Tooele to thank.
With the winter break looming, the three local teams are all .500 or better, and have all shown the potential to make some noise as the season goes along. It has been a long time since all three schools have been competitive, and it has been fun to watch these teams grow in the early weeks of the season.
Stansbury just suffered its first loss of the season Tuesday night, but it came against an equally talented Lehi team blessed with depth and size. If you play that game 10 times, each team probably wins five — Tuesday just happened to be the Pioneers’ night. But sophomore Taylor Hinds is picking up where she left off during a strong freshman campaign, and the return of Kenzi Knudsen from a torn ligament in her left knee that cost her all of last year has been a huge addition for the Stallions. As long as they stay relatively healthy, Stansbury looks like not only one of the top teams in Region 11, but potentially a top-five team in Class 4A.
Tooele has struggled in recent seasons, but finished last year strong and came into this season looking to show it has turned a corner. The Buffaloes aren’t quite there yet, as evidenced by their 20-point loss to Grantsville, but they’re getting closer. They’re sitting at 2-2 overall after beating Hunter on Tuesday night, and if they’re on their game, they can play with anybody. And if sisters Emily and Abby Webber continue to play the way they’re playing, averaging a combined 22.75 points per game, they’re going to be a team no opponent wants to see in the state tournament.
Over in Grantsville, the Cowboys look like a top-five team in Class 3A despite three preseason losses. They lost their season-opener to Millard in a game where Grantsville couldn’t have played much worse, and their other two losses are to Class 4A Stansbury and Logan. But their tough preseason slate is by design, after they weren’t challenged much of last season and weren’t prepared for the tougher competition they faced at state. This year, there’s no doubt the Cowboys will be ready. And with Hannah Butler dominating down low, sophomore Ashlee Edwards running the point in a way that many seniors wish they could and seniors Paige McCluskey and Sarah Ellett able to make teams pay from the perimeter, look out for this team in late February.
It’s only mid-December, but it has already become obvious: these girls are good. It will be fun watching all three of these teams as region play begins.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He enjoys basketball season because he doesn’t have to be outside in the cold. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.