High school girls basketball: Springville taking it one game at a time in repeat bid
For the Springville Red Devils, life happens one day at a time.
The senior-laden team enters the first round of the 4A state tournament today at SLCC as both the defending 2010 state champions and the 2011 favorites. However, within the walls of the Red Devils' gym, there has been no mention of pressure or expectations.
"We've never talked about that," said head coach Nancy Warner. "Obviously, that pressure is just naturally there but we've never, ever talked about it. Our goal is to get the job done."
The Red Devils have gotten the job done all season behind the play of senior guard Lexi Eaton. Last year's Deseret News Ms. Basketball has led the state in scoring, averaging 29.28 points per game — that's 6.4 points a game more than Utah's second-highest scorer, Kandice Gleave of Piute.
"Lexi is a one-of-a-kind player, I've been super blessed to be able to coach her," Warner said of her second-year team captain. "She's a phenomenal athlete and continues to work hard each day to improve her game as well as her teammates around her for the team game."
Warner's team, which was undefeated in last season's championship run, is 17-1 on the season, losing to just 5A power Lone Peak, and rolled through Region 8 action with a perfect 10-0 record.
But none of that matters anymore, however, because, as Warner stated, everything starts over when the state tournament begins.
"Rankings don't really mean a whole lot because it's a whole new season and everybody is on the same playing field," she said. "It's anyone's game. It's a whole new season, a whole new mindset, and really anything can happen. That's the excitement of the state tournament."
Instead, the Red Devils are taking things one day at a time.
"We've prepared for Bonneville tomorrow and we're focused on that right now and, again — as we've done all season — we'll just take one game at a time."
The Bonneville Lakers, who finished third in Region 5 and survived a play-in game against Lehi last Saturday, are led by the scoring of Valerie Buckway, with 10.18 points per game.
In a tough top bracket, the Springville vs. Bonneville winner will immediately have another test when they face either Region 7 champion Mountain View or Bountiful, which finished third in Region 6.
Andrew Blanchard's Bruins also completed region play unscathed and also suffered one loss all season— which was also to Lone Peak.
Senior forward Mika Pinner leads Mountain View in scoring, with 12.29 points a game, while Shyanne and Shanna Halalilo are sharp-shooters from 3-point range.
Snow Canyon enters the tournament as the third top-seeded team in the upper bracket, finishing highest of the 4A teams in Region 9.
In the lower bracket, the Mountain Crest Mustangs and Olympus Titans each earned top seeds in Regions 5 and 6, respectively. The Mustangs enter the tournament as the third perfect team through region, winning 15 games in a row, and losing just once — to Springville — in 20 games this year.
Both Brianna Jessop and Jordi Willden are averaging 15 points a game for Mountain Crest and combining for nine rebounds a game.
As for the Titans, who boast a 15-6 overall record, going 11-1 in region play, balanced scoring has led to their success this year. Jennifer Nichols totals a team-high nine points in each contest and has hit 22 3-pointers this season while Morgan Oliphant adds 8.38 points per game.
The single-elimination tournament starts today at 9:30 a.m. at the Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville.