Grizzlies Top the RankingsJan 28, 2016 02:22PM ● By Bryan Scott
By Greg James | [email protected]
West Jordan -They find themselves at the top of the state basketball rankings with a huge target on their backs, but the Copper Hills boys basketball team is enjoying the experience and striving for more.
“We feel good about the way we are playing. Our confidence is at an all-time high. We have had great opportunities to play in great tournaments, both here in Utah and in Florida. We beat a rival [Bingham] and think we can use our preseason as a spring board for the season,” Grizzly boys head coach Andrew Blanchard said.
The Grizzlies opened their 2015-16 season undefeated in their first 12 games. That stretch included a three game tournament in Orlando and a Utah Elite 8 tournament victory in American Fork.
“We try to keep all of this in perspective; the outside stuff does not really matter. We try to keep it together as the 17 kids on this team and go game by game,” Blanchard said.
The Grizzlies’ first game back from the holiday break, Jan. 4, was a tough contest against Hunter. With approximately two minutes remaining in the first quarter, senior point guard Preston Sanchez went down with what appeared to be a painful ankle injury. Sanchez spent the remainder of the game on the end of the bench with crutches at his side.
The team seemed to be shaken by the injury to one of its star players. Hunter outscored the Grizzlies in the second quarter by three and trailed 41-38 at halftime.
“When one of our teammates falls, we all need the next man to come in and play well. My first shot went down and I just kept throwing them in,” junior Stockton Shorts said.
Shorts scored 13 points in the second half for the Grizzlies as they pulled away for the 77-57 victory that night.
“I think we are playing really good basketball. We share the ball as a team and are playing up tempo,” Shorts said.
Sanchez was able to return for the Grizzlies very next game. He scored 11 points and had three assists in the Grizzlies 63-45 victory over the Jaguars.
“It is not easy to keep all of our players happy with their playing time. We have eight seniors that all want to win. If someone gets injured, it is next man up. We think we have a good chance to be region champs and play on into the state tournament,” Blanchard said.
The Grizzlies have important region home games Tuesday Feb. 9 against Bingham, Friday Feb. 12 against Taylorsville and they close out the season Friday Feb. 19 against Jordan. The state tournament is scheduled to begin Tuesday March 1 at Weber State and Utah Valley Universities.