The sirens were buzzing Saturday night February 26, as a police escort welcomed the Lady Cowboys into town shortly before midnight. The streets were packed with community supporters, showing their excitement and praise for the girls and coaches. What the school bus had on board was something Kanab hasn’t seen in the past thirty years: a high school basketball championship trophy. The last time the girls won a championship was in 1992.
Based on the size of the crowd wearing red, it was easy to see how anxious the town was to support the Lady Cowboys on their run to bring home the trophy. The Kanab faithful showed up, just as they do for all their teams.
The 2A State Tournament played out nicely for the #2 seeded Cowboys, as they had no trouble taking care of St. Joseph, winning by a fifty-point margin 73-23. Then facing the North Sevier Wolves, in what proved to be a tougher battle, yet the Cowboys triumphed 52-35, setting up a tough semi-final game against the #3 seeded Millard Eagles.
Working to avenge a loss to the Eagles earlier in the season, in a scary moment, sophomore ace Anna Cutler took a charge from a Millard player, hitting her head hard on the floor, and would have to come out of the game. The supporting cast, which had stepped in all year long, didn’t miss a beat to secure the win, giving the Cowboys another shot at the title.
The excitement in the air was palpable as senior leader Grayce Glover helped the team manage their nerves. She said, “As a leader I was so thankful I’d been in that position in the past, so I knew how to handle my nerves and how to help my teammates as well. Coach Glover sat me down in the pre-game warm-ups and encouraged me to interact with the team, lift them up with positive comments while looking them in the eye. I let them know it was going to be okay, and that I cared about each one of them.”
Glover continued when asked about how to handle the nerves specifically, “I think the best way to handle those pregame nerves and the pressure of the big stage was to remind myself and everyone we were just there to have some fun, and that’s what we did.”
When asked what made this year different than the last three years of the girls playing for the state championship but coming up short, Coach Klint Glover replied, “I asked a little more this year and they came along without much trouble. It wasn’t always roses, but we all got better and got along.”
For the final championship game, the South Sevier Rams came out in the first quarter with a press defense using a very effective strategy of double teaming whoever brought the ball down, which helped lead them to an upset victory of the #1 ranked Beaver Beavers in the quarterfinal game. The Cowboys got going quick, leading after the first few minutes, but the first quarter ended in a tie, 10-10.
In how the Cowboys prepared for South Sevier, Coach Glover shared, “Their press has evolved as the season went along. It’s pretty effective. It took a whole team to break it. We all had to share the ball and trust each other. Marley [Daley] and Riley [Staton] at the high point, Taylor [Janes] and Chloe [Collins] down low, our guards had to trust and give the ball up in order to get it back, and we all had to make some shots.”
Assistant Coach Mace Glazier added, “We didn’t do much directing regarding the Rams’ pressure on
Grayce. She is a once in a decade type player. From the hours she puts in the gym when no one else knows, to how she inspires the girls around her. Klint is a master of being able to get every ounce out of every player. Each girl had a role to play in each game and they all did it willingly and with trust. They trusted in the team, system and coaches, which allowed us to break down their defense so well.”
The Cowboys took a 22-17 lead into halftime confident in their ability to slow down the Rams offense and move the ball effectively on their own side of the court. The second half continued similarly to the first, with the Cowboys breaking down the press defense with precision passing, smart, confident playing and keeping things under control. The Cowboys never trailed the whole game, as the clocked ticked down and it was clear the Cowboys would take home the trophy, a standing ovation, the rowdy crowd and cheers from the hometown crowd almost made it impossible to hear the final buzzer as the Lady Cowboys closed it out with a score of 47-37.
As it was most of the season, there was a great supporting cast of scorers alongside leading scorer Glover ending the night with 19, with 12 of those coming on four triples. Freshman Taylor Janes provided a huge spark off the bench scoring open jumpers and masterful layups in traffic with 10 points. Tyler Nez, powerhouse three-point shooter, couldn’t be denied all season, and it was the same in the championship game, hitting three of six from beyond the arc.
Glover was asked how it felt to win after coming up short the previous year in the championship game and responded, “Wow! I can tell you there is no better feeling in the world. After working so dang hard for so many years and just barely falling short time after time, it finally felt like everything we’d worked for had really, really paid off.
“The best part of the whole thing though was the feeling that we won not just for our team, but for our entire Cowboy family and community that had our backs. The support that we all felt was overpowering and that filled our hearts more than the actual win. So many people went to extreme lengths to make that moment special and celebrated and we are so, so, so appreciative of that. It wasn’t just a state championship for our girls basketball team, but for everyone in the community and we felt that deeply.”
Assistant Coach Mace Glazier concluded, “The chemistry is what makes this team special. From the players to the coaches, this team was like nothing else I have ever experienced, in that everyone seemed to be on the same page almost all year long.”
Assistant Coach Clayton Cutler relayed, “I knew right away that these girls wouldn’t be happy with finishing anything less than first. And championship players always have that mindset. We have a lot of girls that have been practicing since they were really young. They had a vision, and it was fun to be a part of that. Their parents and past coaches are a big reason for our success. Coach Glover was as determined as I’ve seen him, he orchestrated a lot of different talents and personalities into a record-breaking state championship team.”
This Cowboy squad not only brought home the first basketball state championship in thirty years but set a state record in doing it. They set a record of most threes in a season with 224, breaking a previous record of 202 held by Lehi High School in the 2020 season.
Congratulations Lady Cowboys on a phenomenal season and making everyone from Kanab proud to be a Cowboy.