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The City Journals

CCHS girls basketball’s historic season ends in first round of state tourney

Apr 06, 2018 11:15AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Corner Canyon senior Hannah Sanderson drives to the basket in a game against Box Elder earlier this season (Photo courtesy of Lesa Bowen)

For the first time in school history, a Corner Canyon High School basketball team won a region title. This season, the girls squad secured the Region 7 crown with a 9-1 showing this season, its only loss a 63-56 game just prior to the 5A state tournament.

At state, the Chargers lost in the first round 51-45 to Highland Feb. 19. Corner Canyon “started off really loose,” according to head coach Jeramy Acker, and found themselves down nearly 20 points at one point in the game. Corner Canyon struggled offensively, shooting just 20 percent from the field on 66 shots — while Highland shot 60 percent on 33 field goal attempts. The turnovers were also the story with 23 committed by Corner Canyon to just seven by the Rams.

“Our girls played their hearts out and I’m super proud of them,” Acker said. “Both of our best players had an off night, but they are still amazing. We just ran out of gas.”

Annie Bowen, who usually leads the team in assists, was the leading scorer with 15 points. “She was the player of the game for us and was the reason we were even in that game,” Acker said. 

Corner Canyon began the year for the second season in a row welcoming in a new player. Fortunately for the Chargers, those two players were Jaeden Vaifanua, who came from Louisiana last year, and Kemery Martin, who joined the team this season. The two junior captains have led the team in scoring this past season with 16 points and 21 points, respectively.  

“I’m so proud of our girls for the support they give each other,” Acker said. “Our mantra is, ‘Charger Family,’ which we say after our huddles, and we really are all about caring for each other and loving each other.”

Corner Canyon started the year 7-1 and ran off another winning streak — this one of 11 games — before closing out its 20-3 record. 

“This is a special group of players,” Acker said. “Four years ago, we never won a game. The next year, we won our first region game. Last year, we were in the conversation for the region title and ended up a fourth seed, making the playoffs for the first time. We are doing better every year and still breaking records.”

Acker also noted the classroom excellence of his six seniors — Nicole Critchfield, Hannah Sanderson, Bowen, Alyssa Crow, Andi Humble and Ashlyn Bird — who had a combined 3.86 GPA, and were all named Academic All-Region. Critchfield and Sanderson were also named Academic All-State.

“We emphasize academics to help our players get scholarships and try to give them the athletic opportunities as well,” Acker said. “What our seniors have done academically is not easy to do.”

Also on the squad this season were juniors Megan Astle, Alexandra Wright, Livi Redden and Marissa Wicherski; sophomore Abby Kleinman; and freshman Baylee Bodily.

Acker was assisted on the coaching staff by Heather Humble, Christie Duke, Brian Vaifanua, Lexi Gagon, Andie Nicholes and Brian Rhay with team managers Hannah Knoop, Maddie Moushey, Cara Chambers and Cora Butler.

Next season, Corner Canyon will return Vaifanua and Martin, who are looking to play Division I basketball. “Those two are very highly skilled and they will have a full off-season to work together,” Acker said. “It will be nice to have some consistency.”

Acker has been instrumental in developing a youth girls basketball program for Corner Canyon. A free clinic will be held March 29–30 in the school’s main gym. A clinic for girls in grades K–4 will be held from 6 to 6:50 p.m. with grades 5–8 scheduled from 6:50 to 8 p.m.

“We’re trying to share the loving of the game and teach fundamentals while also noticing interested and capable young girls that can be developed through this program,” Acker said.