The Tooele girls basketball team punched its ticket to the state tournament with a 58-39 win against Grantsville on Thursday, filling the remaining open spot in Region 11.
The games that Grantsville and Tooele play this week will decide which team finishes in third place and which finishes in fourth place. The Lady Buffs own the tiebreaker over Grantsville with two wins in their two meetings.
Tooele plays at home against Ben Lomond on Tuesday, and Grantsville plays at Bear River on Tuesday and at Stansbury on Thursday. Grantsville would have to win both of those games and have Tooele lose to Ben Lomond to move up to third place.
Both teams are guaranteed to play in St. George for the first round of state Friday, Feb. 21, but their opponents and seeds are still to be determined.
Tooele and Grantsville played each other close in the first quarter Thursday. Tooele’s Baylee Hansen opened the game with an assist to Taylor Thomas, who knocked down a long two-point shot. Grantsville’s Abby Butler answered with a drive to the basket at the other end.
Following back-to-back buckets for Tooele by Hannah Webber and Taylor Thomas, Grantsville responded with a 5-0 run. Bailey Critchlow dished down to Butler who put in the basket and was fouled by Tooele’s Courtney Schiwal. Butler hit the free throw. Then on an ensuing possession, Riley Ekins grabbed an offensive rebound and put back the shot to give the Cowboys a 7-6 lead.
Sydnee Simmons came off the bench for Tooele and immediately grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to give Tooele the lead back. Hansen then dished off to Amber Haskell, who scored to make it 10-7. Grantsville’s Whitney Castagno scored the final basket of the first quarter with the seconds ticking away. She knocked down the shot, and the buzzer expired.
Tooele took command of the game during the second quarter, opening with a 13-2 run. Thomas knocked down back-to-back shots, followed by a 3-pointer from Aubrey Vanderwerken. She hit a total of four 3-pointers on the night.
Grantsville’s Butler scored a pair of free throws, but then Tooele scored six straight points. Rylee Whitehouse knocked down a jump shot with her foot just inside the 3-point line. Following two free throws from Hansen, Haskell attempted a rainbow shot that arced high and found the net to give Tooele a 23-11 lead. The Lady Buffaloes raced to a 29-16 halftime advantage, which two more of Vanderwerken’s 3-pointers. Schiwal and Hansen assisted on those two 3s.
Vanderwerken’s fourth 3-pointer came near the end of the third quarter. Grantsville’s Jessy Davis had just knocked down a 3-pointer, but Vanderwerken responded to give Tooele a 47-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.
To see the potential state tournament matchups for Tooele and Grantsville, go to the official Utah High School Activities Association website at www.uhsaa.org. The standings and tournament brackets can be found on the website.