5A girls basketball tournament: Martin passes, scores Syracuse into the final four over Lone Peak
TAYLORSVILLE — Makenlee Williams could tell Brittney Martin was going to make the pass, through several Lone Peak defenders as the players sprinted down the court. And Williams was certain the ball would never get to her.
"I was thinking, 'No, no, no Britt! Don't do it'," said Williams after top-ranked Syracuse defeated Lone Peak 66-43 en route to Friday's semifinal in the 5A state tournament at Salt Lake Community College. "But that bounce pass was awesome."
Yes, it was.
"She is an awesome passer," said Williams, who is often the beneficiary of Martin's ability to get the ball to her teammates, in spite of a great defense's best efforts.
Martin could easily score even more than her average of about 20 points per game. Instead, Syracuse head coach Rob Reisbeck said the Oklahoma State-bound senior has always looked to make that spectacular pass.
"She's always been able to pass well," said Reisbeck. "She'd rather go out and get 10 assists than score 20 points. She just loves seeing her teammates succeed. She's always, always been that way."
And Williams and Martin have played together for so long, they have a close connection on the court.
"The passes they make to each other," said Reisbeck smiling, "there are a lot of amazing moments. They are fun players to watch."
One aspect that made Thursday night's game so enjoyable was that Martin, Williams and the rest of the Titans played such a skilled, entertaining style of basketball against a very good defensive team.
"Their defense was pretty good at the top, those guards were tough," said Martin. "Their posts were bigger than us, so it was hard to get the ball down low."
The Knights were able to play with the Titans for about a quarter and a half, but by halftime the Titans led by 13. That lead would only get bigger as the Titans moved the ball well and hit inside and outside shots.
Martin led the Titans offensively with 18 points, but she also recorded five assists and two steals. Williams had 15 points, two assists and four steals. And forward Courtney Starks had a monster game in the paint with 10 points, 16 rebounds and a blocked shot.
Earlier the team that gave Syracuse the only loss it's had in three seasons — Alta — lost to American Fork. That means instead of extracting a bit of revenge against the Hawks for beating the Titans in last year's 5A state championship game, the Titans will play the Cavemen.
That does not bother Reisbeck, who said there was no special desire to avenge last year's loss.
"There was never 'Do we want a certain team?' " he said.
But his players, on the other hand, were hoping, just a little, for a taste of revenge on Friday.
"I was a little mad when they lost," admitted senior Makenlee Williams. "But American Fork is a really good team and it will be a tough game."