RICHFIELD — Sometimes, in this fun and frustrating game of basketball, the best offense is a great defense.
The Beaver High girls basketball team sure thinks so. And it's that fierce defensive philosophy that will have them playing for the 2A state title today.
Beaver used a dominant defensive effort in the second and third quarters of Friday's semifinal game against North Summit, and it paved the way for an impressive 46-30 victory over the Braves. The win sends Beaver into today's 5 p.m. state championship game against defending state champion Enterprise, which advanced to the title showdown by turning back North Sevier, 52-38.
"I think definitely our defense made the difference today," said the Beavers' MaCail Wood. "I think that was one thing that Richfield lacked yesterday (in a surprising semifinal loss to North Summit), and that's why we surprised 'em when they came out.
"Defense is definitely the focal part of our team. We always make sure that's the main part of our team. That's who we are."
After taking a 7-2 lead at the first stop, Beaver outscored North Summit 17-7 in the second quarter to open up a 24-9 halftime lead. Then the Beavers opened the third period by outscoring the Braves 11-0 to take a commanding 26-point margin, 35-9, late in the third quarter.
And, as they say, it was all over but the shoutin'.
"I think we just came together as a team and we just knew that we had to beat 'em to get to the state (title) game," said Schyler Jordan, who scored 10 points for the Beavers. "Our defense has been good all year.
"I think we were just really ready for this game. We watched the Richfield game last night and I think we were excited but nervous at the same time that North Summit had beat 'em. I think that gave us the boost of energy that we needed."
Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall said defense is the one thing his team always hangs its hat on, and it has helped them reach the 2A championship game for the third straight year.
"We're the No. 1 scoring defense in 2A," he said. "We've been holding teams down to around 30 points a game, and we feel like our defense is our strong point. It's what makes us good from game to game. ... We take such great pride in our defense.
"We actually shot the ball today probably as well or better than we have all year. We weren't a great shooting team, but our defense wins games for us. With our defense, when we start to hit shots like that, we're pretty tough. The combination was our defense and then our 3-point shooting. ... We're usually around 30 percent for the game — period. So we shot the ball much better today than we have.
"I told our team that great teams in pressure situations, that's when they step up and play well," Marshall said. "As a coach, you hope that when you come to the state tournament, you play your best basketball. And today was one of our better games for the whole season — no doubt about it, especially on the offensive end."
Beaver swept both of its region games against Enterprise this season, although the game at Enterprise was a three-point thriller. This marks the third straight year the Beavers and Braves will tangle for the 2A title.
Marshall expects this one to be tight, especially since it's for all the marbles.
"It's gonna be a tough battle," he said.
Woods, though, wasn't so sure.
"We'll be excited," she said. "Whoever it is, we'll beat 'em."
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