Prep girls basketball: Uncles lights it up from long range for Cottonwood

Prep girls basketball • The Colts won six of their first seven games to open the season.
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Cottonwood Heights • As the Cottonwood Colts ran through their various drills during a weekday afternoon practice, the loudest cheers from the team came when senior guard Kari Uncles swished a straightaway 3-point shot.

For as long as she can remember, Uncles has loved stretching the floor from distance. Growing up, she shot as far away from the basket as her arms would allow.

"I always felt like shooting from far range was, I don't know, fun," she said. "I just always wanted to make it from that far away."

While Uncles isn't the sole reason the upstart Colts have won six of their first seven games, she is responsible for providing space for Andrea Brady, Brianna Jorgensen, Nichole Kristensen and other teammates with her exceptional 3-point shooting. Uncles drilled 12 3-pointers, including four in a 44-37 win over Hillcrest on Dec. 6, entering this week. She also was averaging 13.4 points per game.

"I think she just has a God-given talent," said Cottonwood coach Janae Hirschi, who has coached Uncles her entire high-school career. "She naturally had the form when she came in as a freshman. We didn't have to tweak it that much."

But ask Uncles about her ability to get hot from behind the arc, and she'll tell you it's about how the team can keep chugging along, not how many points she can score from 3-point land.

"This year we've played with each other, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses," she said. "I have to make sure everybody comes focused to start games."

A very young Cottonwood team went 7-13 last season, one season after a squad of seven seniors paced the Colts to a region title and a 15-6 campaign. Uncles wants to be part of that group that leads the program back to the postseason and into contention for a Region 3 championship.

"She's not big-headed and she doesn't think she's the best thing on the planet," Hirschi said. "She's a really good teammate and treats everyone with respect."

If Cottonwood hopes to make good on its hot preseason start, it will take a team effort, as Hirschi explained. But having a dead-eye shooter when the game is on the line is a commodity the Colts' coach is happy to have.

"Some people have it," she said, "some don't."

Seems Kari Uncles does.