Through three quarters, the Tooele girls basketball team found itself locked in a tight battle with a talented Green Canyon squad, trailing by just three points.
However, the visiting Wolves found another gear over the final eight minutes, outscoring Tooele 21-10 in the fourth quarter to pick up a 53-39 victory. Green Canyon (1-0) cranked up the pressure on defense in the second half, forcing Tooele (0-1) into numerous turnovers and the Buffaloes couldn’t quite keep up.
“I thought there was a lot of good in the game for us,” Tooele coach Randy Goss said. “If we would have put up 40 points and cut our turnovers down into the teens, we probably would have been all right. We had way too many turnovers and gave them way too many second-chance shots and gave them hope after that.”
Tooele trailed 7-4 after a sluggish first quarter, but found its stride in the second. A free throw by senior Mandy Steadman and a 3-pointer and layup by senior Nizhone Tso gave the Buffs a 10-7 lead. Green Canyon closed the gap to 13-12 late in the quarter, but a layup and a pair of free throws by Steadman put THS up by five at halftime.
Tso knocked down a 3-pointer on Tooele’s first possession of the second half, giving the Buffaloes their biggest lead of the night at 20-12. However, that’s when Green Canyon began to hit its stride. The Wolves kept chipping away, cutting the lead to a single point at 22-21 with 3:31 left in the third after a 3-pointer by Kinley Falslev. Tooele’s Aysha Lewis responded with a bucket of her own to briefly stretch the lead back to three points, but a free throw by former Stansbury standout Taylor Hinds, another 3-pointer by Falslev and a layup by Allee McKenna put Green Canyon up 27-24 and forced Goss to call a timeout.
“The first three minutes of the third quarter is always so important,” Goss said. “They applied the pressure and I don’t think we reacted real well when they extended the pressure on us. We kind of got out of sync and with a new offense, we struggled a little bit with that.”
Lewis, who had a game-high 14 points for Tooele, responded with an and-one and two more free throws to put Tooele up 29-27 with 1:14 left in the third quarter, but that was the last time Tooele led. Hinds and Megan Martin combined for five points in the final 42 seconds of the quarter to put Green Canyon up 32-29, and Hinds had a pair of baskets early in the fourth to extend the lead to seven points.
Falslev then drilled her third 3-pointer of the game from the deep left wing, essentially putting the game out of reach. Tooele never got closer than eight points the rest of the way, while Green Canyon’s lead ballooned to 16 points.
“They’ve got some girls who can hit the 3, they’re aggressive and they go after it, “ Goss said of Green Canyon. “I give them a lot of credit. They’re a good team and I think they’ll do well this year.”
Goss was impressed with Lewis’ effort in her first game. Tso had 10 points and Mallory Searle, Makayla Komer and Steadman each scored five.
Falslev had 12 points to lead Green Canyon. Jordyn Thompson and Hinds each had 11.
Tooele will now have two weeks before its next game, when it travels to Grantsville on Dec. 4.