OGDEN — Two days after knocking off the No. 1 team in 4A, Bountiful had a much easier time of it in Thursday's quarterfinals at the Dee Events Center.
Facing an overmatched Springville team, Bountiful controlled the game from the opening tip with a wire-to-wire 51-37 victory to advance to Friday's semifinals.
"We've been together for so long, a lot of us have been playing together since we were in fourth grade," said Bountiful's McKay LaSalle, who led all scorers with 25 points. "Now we just have to make the best of it. Semifinals, one step closer to the state championship."
With five returning starters coming into the year, it's really not surprising that Bountiful is in the semifinals. It wasn't an easy path, though, as the Braves took their lumps along the way in region play.
Nobody in Region 6 dominated, however, as they all finished with at least two losses.
"It's the toughest region I've been a part of in 22 years of coaching, up and down," said Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell.
Ironically enough, Bountiful is guaranteed to see a Region 6 foe in the semifinals as it will face the winner of Olympus-Woods Cross at 5:30 p.m. The Braves have to like their chances, especially if their press can force turnovers like it did Thursday.
Springville's undersized guards struggled with Bountiful's full-court press the entire game, turning it over 18 times.
"We knew we had an advantage there, we knew we could get something going," said Maxwell. "To their credit, they did everything they could to break it. They tried a lot of things, but we knew we had an advantage with our press. That's what we do."
The Braves jumped all over Springville early, opening up a 9-0 lead and then extending it to 24-10 midway through the second quarter.
The Region 8 champion Devils weren't about to go quietly though. They closed the half on a 9-2 run to whittle the deficit to 26-19. When Matt Sumsion opened the second half with a three-point play, suddenly Springville only found itself trailing 26-22.
It was short-lived momentum, however, as Springville turned it over on four of its next five possessions.
Britt Harding was particularly huge during the sequence. After his lay-up put Bountiful ahead 28-22, he quickly stole in the inbounds pass, followed by another easy lay-up to give his team a 30-22 cushion.
The substitute finished with seven points and four steals.
"That kid came in and gave us a spark when they were making a little run," said Maxwell. "I've been telling all these guys be ready. You don't know when you're going to be called and be needed, and you've got to step up when it's your time and Brit Hardy did and I was proud of them."
Springville managed to hang around despite its own turnover problems and only trailed 40-32 after scoring on its first possession of the fourth quarter.1 comment on this story
Bountiful methodically pulled away, though, by holding Springville scoreless over the next four minutes.
"Our defense all year is what we've been focusing on. Our full-court press sometimes got a little chippy, but when we really got down to it and did what we were supposed to do, we forced a lot of turnovers," said LaSalle.
Sumsion led the way for Springville in the loss with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Maxwell was pleased with how his big guys never let Sumsion get into a rhythm.
"I've got three or four bigs that take pride in wearing guys down," said Maxwell.