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Grizzly Basketball Competes at High Level

Apr 08, 2016 10:51AM ● Published by Greg James

By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan - It finally came to an end —  the end of an era and the end of prominent high school careers for several seniors on the Copper Hills High School boys and girls basketball teams. It was an end not to be forgotten and always to be savored.

“We really try to keep this all in perspective. We keep it together with the 17 kids on the varsity team and go game by game. It is fun to compete at a high level. This is something we have tried to build at Copper Hills,” Grizzlies’ boys head coach Andrew Blanchard said this season.

The Grizzlies’ girls and boys teams both advanced deep into the state playoffs this season. 

The Lady Grizzlies finished their season undefeated and advanced to the 5A semifinals. They ran into another team that was also undefeated, the Layton Lancers. Despite a valiant overtime effort, they fell 46-44.

The girls semifinal game between the two unbeaten teams offered overtime drama, controversial calls and a memorable physical battle between the two clearly superior teams. Layton jumped out to a 17-3 lead, but senior Shirsten Wissinger scored 9 second-quarter points to help the Grizzlies go into halftime down by one, 23-22. 

“I am so lucky to have a coach and a team that pushes me to be the best person I can be. We have had to earn it every day in practice,” Wissinger said earlier this season.

In the second half the score was tied seven times and neither team led by more than two points. Then things got pretty strange. Wissinger, who finished with 22 points, fouled out on a controversial offensive foul at the end of regulation. The officials then lined the players up going the wrong direction for the overtime tip-off, causing all sorts of confusion. Layton scored an uncontested layup as a result, but Copper Hills never gave up.

“Every team struggles to find that closeness. This has been a magical season. The wins are great and everyone likes to win, but I like to see the individual growth. This is when coaching is fun,” girls head coach Ben Morley said.

The Grizzlies had several shots as the clock ran down in overtime but were unable to connect. Their season came to an end as the Lancers advanced to the championship game.

The magic continued for the Grizzlies’ boys team. Their road to a 5A championship game was highlighted by a semifinal victory over top-ranked Lone Peak. They finished second in region 3 and had 22 regular season victories.

“I could not be more proud of what these kids have accomplished. They have battled through adversity and they’ve had a great career,” Blanchard said.

The region 3 regular season champions, the Bingham Miners, were all that stood between the Grizzlies and their state championship goal. The Miners proved to be too much and pulled away in the second half for a 61-44 victory.

The Grizzlies controlled the game pace in the first half. They led 24-23 at halftime. Seniors Charlie Olson and Preston Sanchez poured in nine and six points respectively to keep the Grizzlies in control.

The third quarter proved to be the back breaker. The Miners outscored the Grizzlies in one stretch 18-3 and pulled away. Sanchez finished with 12 points and Olson 10 in the loss.

The Grizzlies have 12 senior basketball players that are scheduled to graduate this spring, but its coaches said this is just the beginning.

“Our school is pretty proud of what both teams have done. There is a program in place where players can get involved at a young age and have a great experience. We will be strong in the years to come,” Morley said.

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