It’s been four years since the Cottonwood High boys basketball team has been to the state tournament, but the new coach in town is trying to change that. Bernie Graziano brings years of experience to the Colts program, having been in the coaching ranks for more than 28 years. During that span, he has led three squads to state championships in Arizona and Utah – at Alta in 1992 and Fremont in 2005 – as well as teams to numerous district and region titles.
“I’m excited to be here and feel really good about our opportunities here,” Graziano said. “I love basketball and my association with the kids I coach. I want the kids to be able to look back and say they had a good, positive experience.”
Graziano has been preaching fundamentals—team chemistry, commitment and good work ethic—since he arrived this fall, hoping his squad can bounce back from a 4-19 season a year ago.
Cottonwood began the year with a 60-57 win over Cyprus Dec. 2, but has only won two games since – a double overtime 89-74 win over Stansbury Dec. 9 and a 64-52 victory against Granger Jan. 30. Four of its losses have been by five points or less.
The Colts have lost to Tooele (64-53) Dec. 3, Murray (68-63) Dec. 5, Juan Diego (73-64) Dec. 12, Kearns (63-50) Dec. 16, West Jordan (59-48) Dec. 19, Ben Lomond (59-52) Dec. 30, Northridge (71-68) Jan. 2, Jordan (82-73) Jan. 7, Taylorsville (95-87) Jan. 13, Granger (67-53) Jan. 16, Hunter (84-73) Jan. 20, Hillcrest (53-50) Jan. 23, West (61-57) Jan. 27 and Taylorsville (68-54) Feb. 3.
“We need to get some wins, for sure, to help our confidence, but there are reasons why we’re losing,” Graziano. “There’s a real sense of urgency, and every night is proving to be a battle. We just need to focus in on each opponent we’re playing that night so we can eventually realize the long-term goal of making the state tournament.”
The Colts are led by three players who average double digits in scoring. Junior Jaron Anderson scores more than 17 points a game while pulling in four rebounds. Junior Noah Montana, who averages 16 points a game, broke a state record with 12 three-pointers in a 41-point effort during a loss to Taylorsville Jan. 13. Senior McKay Hatch rounds out the bulk of the offense with 11 points a game as well as 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Kalin Facemyer (6 points), junior Tanner Call (6 points) and junior Alex Debry (5 points) round out much of the scoring.
The team playsHunter, Hillcrest and West to close out its season.
Also in the Cottonwood program for the 2014-15 year are senior Chris Marino; juniors Jacoby Cosby, Jarod Ivins, Omari Mberwa, Noah Mattson, Cameron Kennedy and Patrick Howell; sophomores Malik Johnson, Abdullahi Ado, Mberwa Adikidaridi, Braeden Madsen, Andrew Lujan, Arnold Gatoro, Haydon Thorum and Naaman Sadiq; and freshmen Spence McDonald, Andrew Williams, Kobe Rosales and Riley Sager.