WEST VALLEY CITY — The Taylorsville defense was struggling, but the offense was on fire.
Still, Warriors head coach Vicky Bohney felt it would be defense that would win the game against a tough Hunter team.
"Our man-to-man wasn't working because they were catching us with the screens," she said after Taylorsville defeated Hunter 64-47 Thursday night. "We went zone and that was too soft."
So the team abandoned a plan to play a box-and-one in hopes of containing Hunter's Dezz Ramos and just played "straight up defense."
"They came out and played great," said Bohney.
Senior guard Whitney Mitchell said Bohney's halftime speech made a difference in the way they played.
The Warriors were clinging to a two-point lead at the end of the second quarter, and they came out with energy and focus and immediately opened up a lead. By the end of the third quarter, Taylorsville led 42-35.
"Our coach got us pumped up," said Mitchell, who led the team with 20 points, including two 3-pointers. "She said the first three minutes are the most important."
The Warriors played that way, especially Pela Tapusoa, who drove the lane for back-to-back layups and then hit a 3. She finished with 14 points in the win.
The other thing Bohney preached was teamwork.
"I told them that together we win," she said. "We have seven or eight players who can shoot."
She also warned them about relying too much on the long ball.
"I told them they would live or die by the 3-pointer," Bohney said. "That's when she (Tapusoa) started driving. She is so smooth in there, and she is not afraid of anything. When she drives, she takes the pressure off Whit."
Her players paid attention to her admonishments.
"What kept us in the game was our defense and our teamwork," said Siu Loamanu, who scored 17 points. "Our main focus was to shut Dezz down, but what we were doing didn't seem like it worked. We just needed to talk on defense."
Ramos was still effective with 22 points, but only one other player was in double figures — Tess Matagi, who scored 11 points. Matagi was also tough on the boards for the Wolverines.
The Warriors are adjusting to having a new head coach, one they said is very different from long-time coach Jace Hymas, who retired after last season.
"He was like our dad," said Mitchell. "At first it was hard to get used to her concepts and all. But we've put our trust in her now."
The players said her approach is much different than their former coach.
"Hymas yelled at us," Mitchell said smiling. And then Loamanu adds, "She's more soft, well, soft-spoken. But she's still tough on us."
The girls hope that now that they're clicking with their new coach, anything is possible.
"We'd really like to win a region title," said Mitchell.
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