TAYLORSVILLE — Former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden once said to his team in a halftime speech during a game against the Boston Celtics, "We're not going to outscore the Celtics, but let's at least try to outscore (Larry) Bird."
Entering the first round of the 4A state tournament against the defending champion and heavy favorite Springville Red Devils, and with the task of trying to slow down state scoring leader Lexi Eaton, Bonneville Lakers head coach Mike Russell must have had a similar sentiment in mind.
The Lakers were not able to.
The Red Devils continued their season-long dominance, pulling away early for the 61-23 win at Salt Lake Community College on Tuesday afternoon, and Eaton recorded a game-high 24 points, even in limited minutes.
"Wow," the senior forward said with surprise when she learned her own total — which was her second-lowest point production of the season — was greater than the opposing team's. "I don't think about that."
She added that Springville's focus is on playing solid, aggressive defense.
"It all starts with defense for us; that is where our game comes from. It ignites our offense."
The Red Devils are scoring an average of 64 points per game as a team while giving up 39 points per game, a difference of 25 points. That is a 4A-best by more than five points a game.
Tuesday's outing was out of reach before the Lakers could even blink, and Springville held a 22-4 advantage by the end of the first quarter. The Red Devils also shot and made more free throws — 16-of-20 compared to just 5-of-7 — and nearly tripled Bonneville's field goal output —making 21 to the Lakers' eight.
"Nobody is perfect and we can always improve," said Springville head coach Nancy Warner, "but I am proud of how my girls played. They came out strong on defense and set the tone early."
The key now, Warner emphasized, is continuing to focus on the task at hand.Comment on this story
"This time of season, anything can happen. I don't believe there are any gimme games," she said. "We've been focusing on, 'it's now a new game, a new part of the season. Anything can happen.' "
On Thursday, the Red Devils will face the Mountain View Bruins for their third consecutive postseason matchup. The Bruins defeated Springville when the two met in the 2009 championship game but the Red Devils got the edge in overtime in the semifinals last year.
"It seems like every year we match up with Mountain View," Warner said of her opponent, which entered the state tournament as the top seed out of Region 7. "That game is our full focus now."