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Sandy girls open with back-to-back wins

The Pioneers claim two at their host tournament last weekend


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Brooke McAllester beats a defender down the floor for a layin during Saturdays win over Franklin. In its annual self-hosted tournament over the weekend, the Sandy girls’ basketball team did something it hadn’t done in nearly a decade – start the season 2-0.

The Pioneers came from behind to stun Class 6A’s David Douglas, 43-39, on Friday, then turned around on Saturday and doubled up Franklin, 70-35.

“When I came in, I didn’t feel like we needed to clean house. We just needed to move some pieces around,” Sandy coach Ryan Alexander said. “We’re still moving some things, but I definitely think we have the talent to be successful.”

The Pioneers of a year ago could not win close games and had a tendency to crack when things went against them, but Sandy’s win in Friday’s opener showed the team has already matured drastically since last season.

Sandy did just about everything right to start the game. It rebounded well, shot with accuracy and took care of the ball on its way to taking a 17-10 lead as the first quarter came to a close. In the middle two periods, things went south in a hurry. The Pioneers made a few turnovers, then the giveaways compounded. Sandy had a stretch where it turned the ball over on five straight possessions without attempting a shot, which made it easy for the Scots to go on a run. By the end of the third quarter, David Douglas had a five-point lead.

Last year, the game would have been over then, but the new-look Pioneers kept their composure and refocused. Sandy immediately cleaned up the sloppiness and cut down the turnovers. The Pioneers also ratcheted up their defensive intensity and they got back to winning the battle on the boards. Sandy gave up just four points in the final period and overcame the five-point deficit to claim a four-point victory.

“It was a bit more stressful than we wanted, but it was probably better for the growth of the team,” Alexander said. “We had to deal with some adversity which this team hasn’t done well in the past.”

Junior post Raquel Pellecer was huge for the Pioneers offensively in the fourth quarter, and she didn’t have to make a shot from the field. Pellecer went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final eight minutes to lead Sandy.

Pellecer converted on 6-of-7 foul shots in the game as part of a 19-point performance. Guard Molly Nutt scored seven points for the Pioneers, and Dalen Richardson had six. Kaylee Barnett put up five points, all in the first quarter.

Sandy v. Franklin

Unlike the David Douglas game, Sandy’s victory over the Quakers was never in jeopardy. The Pioneers’ press defense frustrated Franklin all game and gave Sandy points in transition without contest.

“We wanted to make them play faster than they wanted to,” Alexander said. “We have to be able to get offense from our defense.”

Sandy managed to play aggressive, physical defense without getting into foul trouble, so Franklin couldn’t catch a break by getting free points from the line.

On the offensive end, the Pioneers were a bit apprehensive and tentative to shoot early, but they shook off that sluggishness and the Quakers couldn’t stop anyone. Sandy had 11 different players score in the game, and five recorded at least five points.

Pellecer was again the team’s leading scorer with 23 points, followed by Nutt who finished with nine. Sofia Remsburg added eight points.

The blowout win gave Sandy an opportunity to give the underclassmen some valuable varsity minutes. For a long stretch in the fourth quarter, the Pioneers had four freshmen and a sophomore on the floor together, and the youngsters held their own against most of Franklin’s starting lineup.