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The City Journals

Cottonwood boys basketball qualifies for region play-in game, nearly makes it to state

Apr 11, 2018 11:53AM ● By Brian Shaw

Head coach Lance Gummersall gives instructions to his players during a game against Alta. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

For the first time in many years the Cottonwood Colts boys basketball team got a taste of the postseason. 

It was a small taste nonetheless, but for a Colts program that hadn’t even had a chance to think about going to state in the last eight years, it was good to at least get a glimpse at what might be next year. 

“As long as the players on the team continue to buy into our system and program, the team and Cottonwood basketball can only continue to get better,” said head coach Lance Gummersall. “Progress of our program or any program is largely based on the people within. We hope to have the right people in the program to take it to the next level of progression.” 

The Colts succumbed to Brighton in a Region 7 play-in game Feb. 22 featuring the three teams that finished in a three-way tie for the fourth and final spot to go to the state tournament. 

That meant Cottonwood had to play either Brighton or Corner Canyon and, with a coin flip, the Colts drew the Bengals, featuring the Krystkowiak brothers—sons of Utah Utes head basketball coach Larry. 

Two days earlier, the Colts just upset Brighton at home, winning a triple-overtime thriller 69-66 on the strength of 27 points from Spence McDonald. 

That meant Cottonwood would again have to play the Bengals again in a rubber match at a neutral site for the play-in game and the right to take on Alta—the region’s third team in the three-way tie. 

But, that was provided the Colts won for a third time against Brighton, something Cottonwood had already done twice in the regular season.

The third time against Brighton on Feb. 22 wasn’t a charm though as the Colts got out to a slow start, trailing 20-9 after one quarter. A better second quarter from Cottonwood cut Brighton’s lead to three. 

But, the Bengals played stifling defense down the stretch, limiting Cottonwood to just three points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth. 

Meanwhile, the Krystkowiak brothers—Cameron and Luc—combined for 27 points to give Brighton its first victory over the Colts this season and send Cottonwood home. 

The Colts were led by McDonald, who will depart Cottonwood as the team’s leading scorer this year and the team’s leader in three-point shots made. 

Despite falling a bit short this season of the state tournament, which Gummersall said earlier this season qualifying for state was the team’s overarching goal, Cottonwood will return everyone except for its senior sharpshooter McDonald. 

In particular, junior center Britton Jensen was big for Cottonwood, providing not only a low post presence averaging 10 points per game but also a paint protector with his seven rebounds per contest. 

Senior forward Eli Reynolds also returns for the Colts—the team’s leading scorer at over 12 points per game. And like the Krystkowiak brothers who helped lead Brighton to state, Cottonwood also features two sets of brothers (Donovan and Andrew Cooper, Preston and Dayton Davis) on its team who happen to be coming back next year, according to Gummersall. 

In all, it looks as though Cottonwood is building a program that just might get back to state for the first time since 2010 and take that next big step towards prominence.