With star player Chris Cox back, the Cottonwood boys are also a year older, wiserFeb 09, 2024 02:14PM ● By Brian Shaw
Chris Cox returned over the holidays bringing a talented boost to a Colts team about to hit the stretch run of the season. (File photo City Journals)
Chris Cox is back.
Those four words are all you need to know about Cottonwood boys basketball team and their chances at what should be a wide open 4A tournament.
“Things are good,” reported Cottonwood head coach Marc Miller of his team that hasn’t lost a game since Cox’s return to the lineup Jan. 4.
Cox, a Utah State University basketball verbal commit, transferred to AZ Compass in Arizona for six months and then had a change of heart, returning to Cottonwood for his final few months as a senior.
As one of the best players in the state, Cox makes an already dangerous Colts team even more potent.
Cottonwood [13-5, Region 10 7-0] opened Region 10 play rather early, and without the services of Cox traveled to Jordan on Dec. 19, 2023 winning by the final score of 60-57. John Rosevear leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game and so the junior continued to have a hot hand since coming over from Brighton in the summer. Rosevear had 17 points, right at his average; Tengis Bayasgalan chipped in 12 points. Mason Tolley, Bo Smith and Luka Cecez each had six.
Since Cox’s official return to the lineup though, Cottonwood has kept an unblemished mark in league action (at press time).
Cox posted 17 points and five rebounds to lead Colts’ scorers in a gritty 65-62 home win over Murray in his season debut, while Rosevear chipped in 16. Peter Oguama had 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
On Jan. 9, the Colts hosted Tooele and blew open a close game in the third quarter to win 84-76. Cox continued to find his footing for Cottonwood, as he had 20 points to go with seven rebounds, while Oguama scored 18 points and had a team-high nine rebounds. Rosevear pitched in 11 points for the Colts, while Brighton transfer Luke Park had 11 points, 12 assists and eight steals.
With Park [seven assists per game] at the helm and leading scorer Rosevear on one wing, it seems like the Colts—with Cox at the other wing—are slowly getting back to the lightning-quick guard play that made them such a tough out last season.
They certainly flexed their muscles at Hillcrest on Jan. 11, riding out to a 37-15 halftime advantage before kicking it back into cruise control in the second half for an easy 68-51 win.
Oguama led Cottonwood with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Ryan Nielson scored a season-high 14 points on three threes to go with four rebounds and three assists. Rosevear and Park each added 10 points in their first showdown against the Colts’ crosstown rival.
With Cox who’s already averaging 14.8 points per game at the other wing barely needing to break a sweat [6 points] in this all-important rivalry game at Hillcrest, it presented head coach Marc Miller with an opportunity to give some of his other players [13 in all] some more minutes.
If you’re Cottonwood, you like the depth that Nielson, Tolley, Smith and Cecez are providing, along with Bayasgalan and Tommy Yates. None of the players mentioned in this paragraph scored fewer than five points in that pivotal win at Hillcrest.
Of all the Colts players mentioned in this article, not even one is averaging fewer than three points per game and five have been averaging the same number of assists to steals.
That ability to go 13 players deep is certainly something that last year’s Cottonwood team did not have the luxury of at the 5A tournament when their 23-2 team ran up against the depth and length of Timpview.
While looking ahead to the 4A tournament in March is probably something that coach Miller and his staff will not be doing, you can’t help but witness juggernaut Layton Christian in Region 8 or Dixie or any of the other Southern Utah-based schools in Region 9, or any of the Cache County/Box Elder County powers in Region 11.
The kicker to these wins in region play is that it’s still early in region play, and the teams the Colts defeated are all talented. But if you’re a Cottonwood alum though, you’re excited about what’s to come; you can see the potential of this team coming to fruition.
By the time this goes to press, Cottonwood will be a handful of games from the finish. And though you’ve seen and heard that song and dance before about being a favorite at state and falling short, you get the sense that this year will indeed be different now that the Colts are a year older and a year wiser. λ