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The City Journals

Cottonwood girls basketball begin to turn around its season

Feb 27, 2017 04:08PM ● By Brian Shaw

Head coach Janae Hirschi (standing left) with her Cottonwood High girls basketball team. (Janae Hirschi/Cottonwood girls basketball)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]
For the Cottonwood Colts girls basketball team, maybe losing a few games was what they needed to turn the program around. While the Colts are not quite where they wanted to be at this point in the season, and not in a position to make a postseason spot, that's OK according to head coach Janae Hirschi.
“I've even coached teams that have made it to the state tournament and I played in college myself, but coaching teams like these girls is just as rewarding in my opinion,” said Hirschi.
For this Cottonwood team, nearing the end of their season hasn't spelled doom in any way. Rather, it's galvanized a team whose record might not be as good as they hoped. Instead of gathering wins they're building life skills and transforming girls into women.
“The growth has been tremendous. Usually at the end of the season our kids were like, '“We're out of here,'” she added. But, the players have actually asked to hold extra practices on Saturdays to learn more about the game.
And while the back half of the season started just as badly for the Colts—losing 53-13 to Bingham on Jan. 12—they never quit, added Hirschi. Every game things got a little better in every aspect, which is standard for a team which, according to Hirschi, is not like other teams in her region.
“I'll be the first to admit that our kids have been kind of hot and cold throughout part of the season. Most of them have never played on any competitive teams. We have to teach them fundamentals and game situations, so even though the win-loss record doesn't validate it, and it may sound cliché, the growth has been tremendous,” said Hirschi.
In a game Hirschi termed as winnable at West Jordan Jan. 19, the Jaguars held tough down the stretch to hold off the Colts 40-27, keeping the Colts winless in region play. She credits the Jaguars for executing their game plan a little better than her team.
But a funny thing happened in the next three January games. Cottonwood started scoring with more regularity according to their coach, and that growth has translated into more competitive games.
Taylorsville 53, Colts 29
After scoring just 13 points against Bingham and 27 to West Jordan, the Colts opened play against Taylorsville leading the first quarter 14-11. At that point in the game, everything looked possible for the Colts. But a scoreless second quarter doomed Cottonwood, who were outscored 15-0 going into halftime. The quartet of Colts veterans did what they could to stem the tide but Taylorsville was too much for the Colts, who stayed winless in region play with the loss.
Brighton 64, Colts 36
Cottonwood continued to improve on offense and open up their scoring prowess against the Bengals on the road. But Brighton simply had too much firepower for the Colts, who trailed in every quarter except for the final stanza. 
In that pivotal fourth quarter though, the Colts turned a corner. Getting 14 points from senior guard Isamar Guzman, Cottonwood showed it had plenty of fight left despite remaining winless up to that point in region play.
Colts 50, Jordan 47
The girls got their turn on Jan. 31 in front of their home crowd.
“When my kids show up and play consistently for four quarters at the level they're capable of, and I know there are tough teams in this region, they can do it even if it might only happen one of 10 times,” Hirschi said. 
Riding a five-point lead into the half, the Colts finally put together two solid halves en route to an impressive victory. In the game, the Colts were again led by Guzman, who poured in 25 points and splashed three shots from behind the arc. Center Katie Haglund chipped in 11 for the Colts, who won its first region game.
The Colts wrapped up their season with a 43-41 victory over West Jordan.