Prep girls basketball: Tapusoa quickly adjusts to new home
As the girls basketball season opener approached, Granger coach Aaron Cousins struggled to find an answer.
The Lancers graduated their leading scorer from the previous year, and Cousins saw no possible way to make up for it.
Then he got an unexpected phone call.
"Our athletic director told me we had a player transfer in from Taylorsville. I thought there had to be a mistake. We don't get transfers at Granger," Cousins said. "Honestly, I was really surprised."
Sure enough, that call was no joke. Pela Tapusoa, or Bella as everyone calls her, indeed had transferred from Taylorsville. Cousins didn't find an answer to his quandary she found him.
Tapusoa averaged more than 11 points per game at Taylorsville last season, and she would have been the Warriors' leading returning scorer. Taylorsville's loss already is turning into Granger's gain. Tapusoa stepped right in and led the team with 9 points in the Lancers' season opener at Layton.
She seemed quite comfortable in her Granger debut, which was a drastic change from her initial feelings about the school.
Tapusoa was nervous about jumping into a new situation that was unfamiliar. She loved her time at Taylorsville, and when her family moved just weeks before her senior year, she was discouraged. Tapusoa still might have gone to Taylorsville, but with her shoes being her only transportation to class, she had no choice but to accept Granger as her new school.
Tapusoa's feelings of angst quickly dissipated. Her new teammates immediately alleviated her fears.
"We just clicked from the moment I stepped into the gym," Tapusoa said. "They were all so welcoming and they went out of their way to introduce themselves. That made things a lot easier."
Perhaps one of the reasons for Granger's accepting attitude has to do with who is on the team. The Lancers only have four players with varsity experience. Of those four, only Lile Havili has seen significant action on the court. Tapusoa instantly became one of the most seasoned players on a team full of new faces.
"As soon as she came, she took it upon herself to be a leader," Cousins said. "She has challenged and helped a lot of the younger players. For Bella, it has been a seamless transition."
The coaches and players view Tapusoa as a leader, but she doesn't necessarily see herself in that light. She just is trying to find her niche on her new squad. In her mind, Tapusoa's biggest goal isn't to lead the team in scoring or to be the star every night. Her main focus is to be a team player. If she only scores 2 points, Tapusoa won't care, as long as Granger wins. Her attitude, which so closely resembles that of her new friends on the team, makes her a leader more than anything else could.
While Tapusoa was a little apprehensive early on about her move, she has embraced it and made the best of it. By so doing, she feels right at home as a Lancer.
"Even though everything is new, that's OK," Tapusoa said. "I love it here at Granger just as much as I did at Taylorsville."