TAYLORSVILLE — Xojian Harry and Bella Swan couldn't contain their smiles — or their giggles.
But the pair of Viewmont basketball players probably earned the right to be a little silly after upsetting top-seeded Skyline in the first round of the 5A state tournament 40-31 Monday night at Salt Lake Community College.
"It's awesome," said Harry waving her hands in the air. "We've never really gotten past the first round — even when I was at Woods Cross. This is a whole new adventure that we get to go on together. It feels so good."
Swan and Harry led the Viking offense while their teammates provided stifling defense in the paint. It was an impressive performance for a program that won just nine games in the last four years.
"We came in confident," said Harry, who led all scorers with 15 points. "We worked hard and we were mentally prepared. We planned to come in and make a stand because we knew no one expected us to do anything."
The Vikings have had some impressive wins but they finished in fifth place as they compete in one of the state's toughest regions. They entered the tournament a No. 5 seed and they had to win a crossover game against Kearns just to earn the right to face Skyline Monday.
"The girls have been playing really well," said Viewmont head coach Clint Straatman, who has made great strides in his first year at the helm of the Bountiful school's program. "They don't always make the best choices out there, but they always play hard. That's all you can ask as a coach. They worked so hard, and I'm so proud of them."
Swan, a junior who finished with 14 points, said playing under Straatman has been a totally different experience.
"It's so different and it's helped our team so much," she said. "He is excited all the time and that carries over to the players on the court."
He even gets in on the silliness at times. Monday night he teased Swan about not grabbing rebounds when she had the chance.
"I just stand out there and watch everybody sometimes," she said laughing. "He told me to go get a rebound."
The key to the win was that the Vikings kept the ball away from Skyline's post players and overwhelmed their smaller guards. Miquelle Askew led the scoring for Skyline with nine points, while Taylor Wright and Abbie Brickley added seven points each.
"I don't think we played very hard," said Skyline head coach Deb Bennett. "We didn't overlook them. They have big, fast guards — Viewmont just played harder than us."Comment on this story
The fact that two top-seeded teams were eliminated in the first round simply speaks to the parity in 5A.
"It's just the nature of 5A," said Bennett. "There are a lot of good teams at every position."
"You won't seem them in the stat line, but they really played well," he said. "If these girls play at their potential, they can play with anyone. They don't quite know how good they are — yet."