Corner Canyon basketball teams finish up seasons at state tournament
Apr 23, 2020 02:44PM
By Catherine Garrett
The CCHS boys basketball team, who won the 5A state title a year ago, fell in the second round of the 6A state tournament this year to Lone Peak 87-73.
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
The defending 5A state champions from a year ago took their game to the 6A level this year and the Corner Canyon boys basketball team earned a first-round bye before meeting Lone Peak for the third time this season and losing 87-73 Feb. 21. On the girls side, the Chargers — who finished second in the state a year ago — returned with a new coach and a young team. They lost in the first round of the 6A tournament to Layton 64-47.
Corner Canyon split its two regular season games with the Knights before its final game this season, finishing the year with a 16-9 record.
“I thought we had a very good year,” head coach Dan Lunt said. “We started four juniors and a sophomore. Carter Welling, Trace Ross, Phil Harris, Tate Staley and Peyton Call all played a big part in the season, along with everybody else on the team.”
Ross led the Chargers in scoring with 18 points a game while averaging four rebounds. Welling was tops in rebounds with five while also putting in 12 points a game.
Lunt also particularly noted his lone senior, Arturo Aguero, for his contributions to the program. “He had an outstanding year and exemplified what it is to be a team player,” Lunt said. “He was a great example to all of us.”
Also on the varsity squad this season were juniors Joshua Chandler, Samuel Jex, Tyler Thompson and Brayden Witt; sophomores Tyler Burraston, Joshua Cannon, Jaiden Feroah, Ty Heibaur; and freshmen Everest Romney and Max Toombs.
The girls team began the year with an 8-2 start — including two four-game winning streaks — before Region 4 play began where the Chargers went 0-10. The Chargers steadily improved during the second half of region matchups, most notably its four-point loss to Skyridge Jan. 31 — where the game was tied at 32-all with a minute and a half left — when it had previously lost to the Falcons by 38 points earlier that month.
“We definitely played in the toughest region in the state and with no varsity players returning from last season, it was a building year for sure,” said first-year head coach Gianni Ellefsen. “But, these girls really bought into the process and a belief that they were good enough to play with the teams in our region. They made adjustments and came a long way. They certainly exceeded my expectations.”
The team averaged 43 points and 22 rebounds a game, led by junior Alexa Orten and sophomore Natalie Newton who combined for nearly 20 points a game.
“We knew we didn’t have a lot of experience as we had a ton of young girls, but we learned a lot,” Newton said. “In the first half of region, we were hit with all these really good teams, and in the second half we still worked on the same things but we came into the games with a different mindset.”
Ellefsen noted the play of freshman Clara Hazar, particularly in her matchup against West’s Whitney Banz in CCHS’ Winter Classic in holding her to just six points while she guarded her. “Whitney’s the best in the state and despite Clara being short, she is fast and really tough,” Ellefsen said. “She hasn’t backed down from any challenge I’ve thrown at her this year.”
“Getting varsity experience made me more confident and has built me into a better player,” Hazar said. “As the year went on, we got more chemistry and confidence as a team as well.”
Freshman Hannah Shinall also came on strong as the season progressed, according to Ellefsen. In her first game against Taylorsville, she scored 11 points and pulled down eight boards as she “gave us a taste of what she can do.”
A highlight of the season was Corner Canyon winning its own freshman tournament, which included several 5A and 6A teams, with a 28-point win in the final game.
Senior Abby Kleinman, who Ellefsen referred to as “the heart and soul of our team,” said, “This was definitely a challenging year, but it was a good year. We had to put in a lot more work than the average team but we saw huge improvement all across the board throughout the year in coaching to our playing and to figuring things out.”
The team’s other senior, Sam Frazier, who moved to Draper — the city her ancestors founded — also helped provide leadership in molding the young players and building a foundation for the future. “The main highlights for me were the little moments and celebrations I go to have with my teammates on and off the court, especially moments where we felt in sync as a team, striving to succeed together.”
Also on the 2019-20 varsity squad were junior Breauna Nez; sophomores Lizzie Boyle, Isabel Crofts, Lily Croft and Erin Woods; and freshmen Grace Chapman, Summer Larson, Maddie White and Brook Yeomans.
Ellefsen was assisted on the coaching staff by Mike Matheson, Steve Crandall, Emily Rice, Grace Cox and Robert Shinall with team managers Linda Vogel, Maggie Gordon and Annika Christensen and team coordinator Cori Yeomans. “I constantly refer to them as the best staff in the state, with their experience at the high school, college and pro level,” Ellefsen said. “They are as good as it gets.”
“We have a lot of work to do in year two as we try and turn things around,” Ellefsen said. “We’ll also continue to focus on our strong bantam program that has great coaches as we build this whole thing.”