TAYLORSVILLE — The Bingham Miners have been through so much lately that entering the tournament as a fourth seed and facing third-ranked and top-seeded Taylorsville didn't seem like an impossible task at all.
Even after losing leading scorer and senior captain Summer Yack, the Miners said they were confident that if they played the way they knew they could, they were capable of the upset.
"Losing Summer was a hit to the team, but at the same time it's motivating," said sophomore Shelby Richards, who led the team in scoring with 23 points in Bingham's 66-55 victory over Taylorsville in the day's biggest upset. "We have a chance to prove something. It lets us know what we're playing for. … It's the name across our chest."
The victory, which seemed unlikely after Bingham slipped to fourth place in the brutal Region 4 race, felt like a bit of a statement for the young squad.
"I think it lets them know this is Bingham," said Richards. "We're ready."
Jillian Powell said that losing Yack, who tore her ACL a few weeks ago, was tough, but it also bonded the athletes.
"It helped us come together," said Powell, a junior who added 15 points in the win. "It helped our unity. We've all had to step it up, and Summer is still a great leader."
Adds Richards, "We couldn't do it without her."
Bingham head coach Rand Rasmussen was proud of the way his team played — and overjoyed to get that first-round win.
"WEe've had our share of adversity," he said. "It feels really good."
He said finding players to fill Yack's scoring role, as well as her on-court presence, has been difficult.
"It took us a while," said Rasmussen. "Who's going to step up and do it? With no other senior, it didn't come natural."
The Miners took control of the game early using their half-court trap and aggressive defense. Bingham played 12 athletes, subbing them in five at a time, most of the time.
"Taylorsville is a scary team," said Rasmussen. "Our second unit tries to play a little helter-skelter and try and wear the other team down. … We just feel real fortunate … to get one game under our belt."
The Warriors were led by Siu Loamanu, who scored 16 points, and Pela Tapusoa added 11 points. Whitney Mitchell scored nine points, exactly the number she needed to pass Shawnee Slade on the school's all-time scoring leader's list.
Rasmussen said he didn't expect to pull off the upset, but he did feel like playing "a No. 1 seed every week in region" helped the team prepare for the playoffs.
"Their effort was great," he said of his young team. "So I can't complain."