Lady Bulldogs win one,
lose two with limited roster
By Ben Lasseter
In the busiest week yet of the season, the Gunnison Valley girls’ basketball team faced arguably the most adversity it has dealt with so far.
Playing short-staffed because of injuries and COVID-19 protocol, the Bulldogs defeated Monticello 50-40 away last Tuesday, lost 27-41 at home to Altamont and travelled to lose again to American Heritage, 42-62. Monticello’s record is 1-14 overall and 0-7 in 2A Region 16. Altamont is 6-7 and 2-4 in the region, and American Heritage is 10-8 and 4-2 in its region.
Missing from action was senior Kayzia Caldwell, one of the team’s two leading scorers. She was on UHSAA protocol for athletes exposed to COVID-19. Seniors Josse Peterson and Jayde Peterson also missed significant playing time through the week due to injuries.
Coach Melissa Sorensen said she was pleased overall with the way her team adapted to new challenges and played through challenges last week.
“They’re playing hard every week, fulfilling roles they’ve never played,” she said. “It’s been a different season, and we’re just glad to be playing one.”
Sorensen credited her team’s ball movement against Monticello for the 10-point margin of victory.
Following a stretch in which Caldwell dominated the stat sheets with three games of double-digit points, the Monticello game saw sophomore guard Rilee Dyreng and junior forward Raven Pickett pick up her slack. Dyreng scored 23 and 8 eight rebounds, while Pickett scored 11 and had 11 rebounds.
The Altamont game two days later, however, is where the shortened roster truly showed.
The Longhorns took an early lead, which they followed up with a throttling full-court press defensive attack. Sorensen said players who did not know Caldwell’s role in moving the ball up the court had to fill in, which resulted in confusion and many turnovers. Especially in Dyreng’s absence, Altamont stifled most Gunnison Valley offense in the first half and went up 22-8, a lead they were able to hold comfortably through the second half.
Friday night against American Heritage was a similar story in another double-digit loss. With its roster the most depleted it has been all season, sophomores Molly Blackham and Bentlee King made their first career starts.
“I’m proud of the kids for stepping up in roles they don’t usually play,” the coach said. “Everybody played hard the whole time, and they stepped into roles without complaining.”
This week, the team will face two opponents they lost to in competitive games earlier in the season.
Sorensen said they will need to cut down on turnovers and make more free throws on Tuesday at North Sevier (4-11, 3-3 region). The last time the two teams played, Gunnison Valley missed 20 free throws and lost by eight.
She said the team is preparing to improve in the same areas against Duchesne (12-5, 7-1 region) at home tomorrow.