TAYLORSVILLE — She was honored as the Deseret News' Ms. Basketball as a junior. She averaged 29 points per game as a senior. And in possibly her least spectacular overall performance of the season, Springville's Lexi Eaton still came through in the exact moment her team needed her.
Eaton scored Springville's final 11 points after a late Mountain Crest push gave the Mustangs a two-point lead with just over three minutes remaining. With Eaton as the instigator, Springville outscored Mountain Crest down the stretch to take the 44-40 win and 4A state title.
The title was Springville's second in two years after losing to Mountain View in the 2009 title game.
"It's amazing," Eaton said after the win. "Hands down, it's the best feeling in the world. We worked for this all season long, and it was a tough state tournament. There was nothing easy about winning this title."
Eaton finished with 25 points, but made only 6-of-21 from the field and 12-of-20 from the line. She added 12 rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks in a typical — for her — all-around performance.
"Lexi's a special player. She's awesome," Springville coach Nancy Warner said. "I'm excited to see how she does in the future."
Springville led 27-17 early in the third quarter before Mountain Crest went on a 20-8 run to take the lead midway through the fourth. Emily Moore, who scored a game-high 13 points for the Mustangs, played a key role with her aggressive offense. She scored 10 of her points during the run, but only made 7-of-12 free throws.
As a team, the Mustangs made only 12-of-21 free throws and turned the ball over 27 times.
"Our defense really carried us today," Warner said. "We couldn't make anything on offense for a long time, but we kept playing hard and got the stops we needed to pull it out."
Jordi Willden, who led Mountain Crest through the first three rounds, finished with seven points and six rebounds, and fouled out with 21 seconds left and her team down by two points.
Karlee Kartchner added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs, while Juliette McCann had three steals and a game-high six assists.2 comments on this story
Springville's Mackenzie Nielson, who was playing with a hefty bandage over her swollen left eye after she was elbowed in Friday's win over Sky View, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals. She and teammate Caitlyn Erickson received Academic All-State honors at halftime.
"We've been in the championship before and know what it's like to lose," Nielson said. "We didn't want to do that again, so we really focused and played much better in the fourth quarter. It feels great now that it's over and we came out on top."
4A Girls Basketball All-Tournament Team
MVP, Lexi Eaton, Springville
Mackenzie Nielson, Springville
Jordi Willden, Mountain Crest
Emily Moore, Mountain Crest
Jessica Benson, Maple Mountain
Dannika Webb, Sky View