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The City Journals

Fast start comes up short for Cottonwood girls basketball at state

Apr 07, 2021 12:02PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

If you’re an author of the perfect Cottonwood High girls basketball story, you couldn’t have written a better beginning if you tried. It was the last half that was frustrating in a 66-40 loss Feb. 24, ending the Colts season in the first round of the 5A state basketball tournament.  

Cottonwood started out hot at Timpview, galloping out to a 12-7 lead in the first quarter. But a costly turnover trying to get the ball inside cost the Colts dearly, as a Timpview player went coast to coast for a layup—the Thunderbirds first basket in over 5 minutes. 

The methodical plan to move the ball around the perimeter and look for one of two things, either an open three—at which Cottonwood has been very efficient this season—or pass inside to Ashton Budge and have her work in the low post were both effective. 

Cottonwood also stayed in the game early on by forcing turnovers but not getting crazy running in transition, so it led 12-9 after one. 

Amid the strains of Nikki Minaj blaring from the loudspeakers, the music wasn’t anything the Colts liked apparently, because the lid closed on the hoop for the next few minutes, until a three pointer from Budge stretched the lead to 15-11 two minutes into the second quarter. Timpview clawed back to tie it at 15 with 5:48 in the first half. That is, until Kimberly Rodriguez buried another three, seconds later. 

The treys were critical, because that along with the ball movement helped Cottonwood overcome a distinct size and athleticism advantage to the No. 7-seeded Thunderbirds, who were getting two-point buckets compared to Cottonwood’s threes early on. 

But as the halftime buzzer neared ever closer, Timpview started trapping Cottonwood’s players at half court, negating the Colts ability to get into their offensive sets. Cottonwood got another three from Budge who ended up with 11 points, but the Timpview traps gave the ball back to the Thunderbirds and also forced the Colts into several bad turnovers, resulting in a 30-23 deficit at the half. 

During the halftime break, Prince’s timeless “When Doves Cry” played over the PA system, which may too have been a bad choice in music for Cottonwood, because the lid again closed on the basket, while the deficit climbed to 12 at 39-27 with four minutes to play in the third. 

Cottonwood again tried to work the ball around the perimeter and find the open player, but those threes that were dropping for the Colts in the first half were not in the second. Neither were the passes in the low post into Budge, who was forced further outside by Timpview’s 2-3 zone than before. 

Budge finished with three treys for the Colts, who end their second consecutive trip to the state tournament with a 1-13 record in region play, 4-16 overall. Chloe Myers added 10 for Cottonwood while Kimberly Rodriguez chipped in five points.