Warriors wind down basketball season
Feb 27, 2017 11:18AM ● Published by Bryan Scott
The Taylorsville girls basketball team huddles around head coach Jodi Lee for instructions. (Greg James/City Journals)
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Taylorsville Warriors girls basketball head coach Jodi Lee has the team focused on taking it one game at a time. The team has responded by tightening its grip on its Region 3 opponents.
“I feel really good about this team,” Lee said. “We had a few bumps along the way, but where this team is at now I could not be happier with.”
The team’s chemistry has helped them stay focused on its goals in what could be the toughest region in Class 5A. The Warriors have a firm hold on third place behind Bingham and Copper Hills.
“These girls have begun to believe that they can win,” Lee said. “I think that is the biggest difference from when I started here. This is a tough region, and some nights it can be brutal. This season has been about taking it one game at a time.”
A sophomore and junior lead the team in scoring, but Lee said the mixture of senior leadership is what keeps this team focused.
Seniors Zae Patane, Maizy Burbank, Katie Burgess and Mari Hasebi led a blowout victory over Jordan on senior night on Feb. 7, 52-21. The seniors closed out their careers by capturing a must-win to retain a hold on third place in Region 3. They never trailed; they scored the game's first nine points and finished the first half on a 14-1 run.
“I think our team bond is great,” Finau Tonga, a sophomore on the team, said after the Jordan victory. “We have grown together and learned to play together. I am humbled, but there is always room for me to improve. I want to go to state and get as far as we can. That is our goal.”
Morgan Toluono has averaged 12.7 points per game this season. The junior has shot 29 percent from behind the three-point line. She scored a career high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Olympus earlier this season.
“She (Toluono) is an all-around player,” Lee said. “The last two years, I have asked her to play point guard, and I do not think that is her natural position. She slashes to the hoop well and shoots from the wing. Her stats could get even better.”
Tonga is the team's second-leading scorer. At 6-foot-2, she towers over many of her teammates. She has snagged eight double-doubles (double figures in two statistical categories). She had 22 rebounds against Murray in non-league play earlier this season.
“She (Tonga) has the ability to go places,” Lee said. “She has been working hard and is finding that other teams focus on her. It is not just about being bigger anymore. I think she has potential to be a division one player.”
The 5A girls state basketball tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 20 (after press deadline) at Salt Lake Community College. The Warriors could face Fremont or Northridge in the first round of the tournament.
“This year the team has been a joy,” Lee said. “They have been a dream. Our seniors have played hard, and that trickles down. I do not think we are the most talented team in the state, but we play hard enough that teams are not going to want to play us. We will give it a battle. The heart and effort is great with these girls.”
Hasebi was named to the Deseret News Academic All-State team. The award is to recognize those seniors who have excelled in the classroom as well as in athletic competition. With more than 85,000 students competing in athletics, the Utah High School Activities Association considers this a prestigious award.
Lee is in her third year as head coach at Taylorsville. The Warriors have qualified for the state tournament all three seasons but have never advanced past the first round. They are focused on taking it one game at a time this time around.