The Tooele girls were in dire need of a strong performance and a victory. They got both Tuesday night against rival Grantsville with a 55-32 triumph.
“The girls had to make a choice whether to keep going on the path we’ve been on or to rise up and turn this around — tonight they rose up,” said Tooele coach Kris Ashby.
The Buffaloes outscored the Cowboys 19-5 in the first quarter to deliver an early knockout blow. The lead increased to 32-14 by intermission.
Grantsville improved its play after its first-quarter debacle.
“I think our lack of experience showed in the first quarter. Mentally, we were a little flustered with it being the Tooele game,” said Grantsville coach Megan Vera. “For a couple of our players it was their first game against Tooele. We had to slow things down a bit to get our composure back, and the girls played well the final three quarters.”
Early in the third quarter, Grantsville cut the Tooele lead from 22 down to 14 with back-to-back 3-pointers from Megan Caferelli and Whitney Castagno plus an inside basket from Riley Ekins.
Tooele responded with a 15-footer from Baylee Hansen and a follow-up shot by Rylee Whitehouse. Tooele was suddenly back up by 18 points after three quarters. Both teams substituted freely in the final minutes and the Buffaloes outscored the Cowboys 13-8 in the final frame.
“We competed a lot better than we did in our first two region games. I felt like our energy was a lot better tonight,” Ashby said.
Tooele also tweaked its lineup a bit by starting Amber Haskell and Sydnee Simmons who had been coming in off the bench. Hansen also was back out on the floor after missing two games with an injury.
“It helped having Baylee back. She helps us a lot both on offense and especially with her defense,” the THS coach said.
Courtney Schiwal got her shot going early with a short jumper and then a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Tooele an 11-3 lead with 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Schiwal finished the first quarter on fire with a drive to make it 16-3 and then another 3-pointer to push the lead to 19-5 after one quarter. Schiwal finished with a game-high 21 points.
Taylor Thomas added 10, Hansen eight, Haskell seven. Hannah Weber four, Whitehouse three and Whitney Leakehe two.
Bailey Critchlow and Cafarelli each scored six for Grantsville, Angel Cloward five, Abby Butler four, Ekins four, Castagno four and Jessy Davis three.
Tooele pushed the lead to 23-5 early in the third quarter on a pair of baskets by Hansen, and Thomas made it 26-7 with a basket-and-one foul shot.
Trailing by 21 points, Caferelli stopped the bleeding with a 3-point to end the third.
Grantsville’s Davis grabbed a rebound and got the ball to Ekins for an inside shot to slice the lead to 14, but that would be as close as Grantsville would get in the second half.
Grantsville hosts Bear River on Thursday and Stansbury on Tuesday.
Tooele plays at Ben Lomond on Thursday and has a bye on Tuesday.