It’s a wrap: the 2020 Taylorsville sports year in reviewJan 05, 2021 02:42PM ● By Greg James
Warriors doubles partners Maelynn Torres and Logan Wareham played together in the first round of the state tournament. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The 2020 sports year has been filled with cancelations, postponements, and unforgettable individual performances. As 2021 begins here is a look back on the year that was.
The Taylorsville boys basketball team won five of its eight games in the month. Cameron Millican averaged 18.7 points per game. The Warriors had enjoyed a hot start to the season. In mid-December, Cole Nebeker hit a running buzzer-beater shot to beat Brighton 52-51. The win was highlighted as the “play of the week” by several of the local news stations.
The Taylorsville girls basketball team rebounded from a tough preseason by winning five games in the month. Olivia Ashton led the team in scoring. Ella Huntington scored 15 points in a 47-37 victory over West Jordan to help close out the month.
Kearns High School’s girls basketball team won two of three games in the Timberloin Tournament in Boise, Idaho. The achievement helped them qualify 18th in the state tournament before losing to Jordan in the first round, 61-44. Its boys team finished the season ranked 23rd and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Taylorsville wrestler Malachi Novosel closed out his high school career in the 170-pound bracket at the state tournament. He finished the year with a 31-9 overall record and won two matches in the final before being eliminated.
Kearns senior Sissy Baum finished seventh at the state swim meet in the 200-yard individual medley, and Joseph Biesinger placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke. Amy Chung from Taylorsville finished ninth in the 50 freestyle. She also finished fifth in the 100 free. Alec Flockhart placed sixth in the boys 100 free. Ethan Lawrence finished sixth in the 500 free. The Cougars boys and girls both finished in the top 10 at the state tournament.
The Utah Jazz game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA suspended the remainder of the season. Two days later, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and closed in-person school. The Utah High School Activities Association paused all interscholastic sporting activities.
Taylorsville and Kearns high school teams had played only one or two spring sports contests when the season was suspended. Many parents petitioned officials to start the seasons again with the #letthemplay initiative.
The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball followed suit and paused their seasons as the NBA had. The NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The Salt Lake City Stars stood atop the NBA G-League Western Conference standings when the season was paused. They had a 30-12 record and had managed to attain the most wins in team history. The club was poised to appear in the playoffs for the second straight season. In June when the season was canceled, head coach Martin Schiller was named Western Conference Coach of the Year. Bart Taylor was named Executive of the Year, and Jarell Brantley earned a spot on the league’s All-Rookie team.
The Utah High School Activities Association officially canceled the spring sports season after a monthlong hiatus. After parent protests, officials reaffirmed the decision in May. Several spring sports teams played only a few games before the season was canceled.
Nationally sporting events were canceled or postponed. The Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby normally held in May were postponed until later in the year.
Late in the month, Taylorsville head baseball coach Glen Spencer took a position on the Salt Lake Community baseball’s staff, and assistant coach Jentry Beckstead was named his replacement.
MLB, NHL and NBA seasons restart in varying manners. The NBA chose to play its games in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida.
Taylorsville fastpitch softball’s 8 and under team, Kombat, took first place at the Utah state girls softball tournament.
“It was an intense game,” Kobat head coach Cassie Sandberg said.
Former Olympic speed skater and SLCC baseball player Eddy Alvarez made his major league debut for the Miami Marlins. He collected his first hit four days later against the Mets.
The Pac-12 conference canceled all fall sports amid the pandemic. It later reversed its decision. The University of Utah had its first two football games canceled.
Taylorsville won its first football contest of the season over Northridge 37-31 in overtime. Braxton Bates scored a touchdown in the extra period for the victory. Head coach Joe Johnson stepped down at the end of the season.
“I believe we can compete in this region,” Johnson said. “We just need to concentrate on fixing us.”
Chris Rosales was named the new head coach in December.
The Utah Jazz were eliminated from the NBA playoffs with a game-seven loss to the Denver Nuggets, 80-78. The Jazz led the Nuggets three games to one before eventually falling. They finished the regular season sixth in the Western Conference with a 44-28 record.
Brigham Young University kicked off its football season with a 55-3 victory over Navy. The Cougars were ranked as high as 13th by the College Football Playoff Committee, and quarterback Zack Wilson received recognition as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
The Kearns girls soccer team defeated Hunter 2-1 to clinch its first region title in 20 years. Their 12 wins were the most in school history.
“There were seasons we were lucky to walk away with two wins,” Cougar head coach Jenassee Robison said. “They changed their attitude and have invested in the team.”
The Cougars lost in the first round of the playoffs 3-0 to Roy.
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship over the Miami Heat four games to two. Giannis AntetoKounmpo for the Milwaukee Bucks was named the league’s most valuable player.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series four games to two over the Tampa Bay Rays. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed mid-game of the final because of a positive COVID test. After the game, he returned to the field for pictures, and the trophy presentation causing extreme concern over his unwillingness to shelter away from his teammates.
Kearns forfeited its first-round state playoff game 1-0 to East. Despite only one loss, the Cougars were forced to forfeit after the team had an outbreak of COVID-19.
“We have never gone through anything like this before,” Cougars head coach Matt Rickards said. “It was a tough situation to go through.”
The Cougars ended the season as co-region champions, their fourth title in a row.
Herbert again paused all high school athletics for two weeks. Winter sports tryouts were pushed back to Nov. 24.