TAYLORSVILLE — Mercedes Riggs was a sophomore the last time Timpanogos advanced past the quarterfinal round of the 4A state playoffs, where the Timberwolves eventually fell in the state championship game to Springville.
Two years later, with the loss still fresh in her mind, the senior guard is en route to a chance at redemption. The Timberwolves punched their ticket to the semi-final round after earning the victory, 31-25, in an all-out defensive battle with the No. 2 ranked Bonneville Lakers.
Riggs played a critical role in the advancement, hitting two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter and later a pair of free throws with under a minute to go.
"You don't think about it," Riggs said of the pressure. "It's just catch and shoot. When you think about it, that's when you're going to miss. It's a matter of muscle memory."
The two teams were neck and neck for the full 32 minutes and the contest saw five ties and eight lead changes. Neither team was able to get to the basket often and defense ultimately won it for fifth-ranked Timpanogos squad. The Timberwolves held Bonneville star Emilie Volk to just eight points.
"We had to limit Volk and (Kayla) Eilertson," Timpanogos head coach Kawika Akina said. "We wanted to know where she was at all times." Akina noted the value of Marcy Fuller and Danielle Chapman's strong defense as well. They "did a great job pressuring their point guard … frustrating them and taking things out of sync up top."
With 1:48 on the clock, Bonneville's Cortney Porter tied things up for the final time, 25-25. Timpanogos would go 3-of-4 from the line over the next few possessions to widen the gap to three with 43 seconds remaining.
"I told the girls … 'guys, this is our game. We know how to play basketball. If we just play with heart, we're going to win this game,' " Riggs said.
Tightening up their defense, the Timberwolves forced a Bonneville turnover on the next trip down floor before Eternity Galeai sealed the deal for the Timberwolves with a huge rebound and put back off a missed 1-and-1 attempt.
The game ended, 31-25.
Riggs led the Timberwolves with 11 points, while teammate Jamaica Christensen contributed seven. Madison Dowd pulled down 12 rebounds in the win.
Timpanogos moves on to the semifinal round where they'll face the Skyline Eagles. Riggs is confident in her team's ability to pick up the next game and is hopeful of a championship appearance.
"I know we can get there," she said. "I have a hunger to get back to it."