The odds were stacked against the Tooele girls basketball team coming into Thursday’s Region 10 rivalry game against Stansbury.
The Buffaloes had never beaten the Stallions on the road in 11 previous tries. Stansbury had won 18 of the previous 23 meetings dating back to 2010, though Tooele had snapped a streak of nine Stansbury wins in 10 tries with a 33-18 win in Tooele on Jan. 21. The Buffs hadn’t scored more than 36 points in a single game against the Stallions in more than five years.
All that was erased, thanks to a trio of Tooele seniors. Aysha Lewis, Madi Baker and Emma Higley combined to score 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 9-of-11 effort from the free-throw line, and the Buffs rallied for a 43-38 win over the Stallions to end more than a decade of frustration.
Things didn’t start off well for Tooele (6-9, 3-3 Region 10), which found itself trailing 7-0 early in the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Stansbury’s Ainsley Thurber, followed by a layup by Epa Tia and a mid-range jumper by Sarah Gatluak. Baker’s first 3-pointer of the game ended the Stallions’ game-opening run, but Stansbury (5-11, 2-5) maintained its seven-point advantage entering the second quarter.
Tooele began to find its game in the second period, beginning with another 3 by Baker that pulled the Buffs within four points at 13-9. Higley added a free throw and Lewis drove in for a layup to close the gap to a single point, and after a layup by Stansbury’s Brooke Jensen, Baker drained another trey from the left wing to tie the score at 15-15. The Stallions outscored the Buffs 6-2 over the final minutes of the half to take a 21-17 lead into the locker room, but Tooele had some momentum.
That carried over into the beginning of the third quarter, as Breanna Beer hit a free throw and Higley had a putback layup to pull the Buffaloes back within a point. Later, the Buffs picked off a steal and Higley converted a layup to give Tooele its first lead of the night at 22-21. The lead see-sawed, with Thurber and Lewis trading 3-pointers late in the quarter before a driving layup by Tia gave Stansbury a 27-26 lead entering the final frame.
From there, it was all Tooele. After a free throw by Gatluak increased Stansbury’s lead to two points, the Buffaloes put together an 11-3 run to take control of the contest. Baker opened the run with her fourth 3-pointer of the night, and Beer knocked down a mid-range jumper to put Tooele up 31-30. Baker added a free throw and Lewis drove to the basket to put the Buffs up four, and a free throw by Aiden Finch and two more by Lewis had Tooele ahead 37-31.
Stansbury cut the Buffs’ lead to a single possession a few times down the stretch, including a corner 3-pointer by Jensen that had the Stallions trailing 41-38. But Lewis added two more foul shots and Stansbury didn’t score again, preserving Tooele’s first-ever road victory against its biggest rival.
Lewis had 14 points to lead Tooele, while Baker had 13 and Higley added 12. Beer had three points and Finch had one.
Tia scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists for Stansbury. Thurber had eight points and six rebounds. Gatluak had seven points, Jensen had five and Jessica Smart, Anika Knudsen and Natalie Ogden each scored two.
Both teams were scheduled to play Tuesday night after press time, with Tooele hosting Ogden and Stansbury traveling to Ben Lomond. The Stallions will travel to Juan Diego on Thursday for a Region 10 contest, and Tooele is set to face Ben Lomond on the road Friday night.