TAYLORSVILLE — Undefeated Springville started sluggish, but asserted itself midway through the third quarter to beat Mountain Crest 60-42 in the first round of the 4A state basketball playoffs. Malia Nawahine led the Red Devils with a game-high 22 points with 18 of those coming in the second half.
“When (Nawahine) can take a deep breath, get to the basket and finish, that’s when she’s at her best and that’s what we needed,” said Springville coach Nancy Warner. “When see did all that she put us in better position than we were in the first half.”
Mountain Crest came out strong — not intimated at all by Springville’s 21-0 regular season record and managed a 19-19 tie at the half. The Mustangs began the second half with a flourish and found themselves up 31-22 midway through the third.
At that point Springville seemed to flip a switch and completely dominate until the final buzzer. Led by Nawahine and a tenacious full court press Springville finished out the quarter with a 14-5 run to tie it up heading into the fourth.
“We came out with our full court press and that sort of got us going,” Nawahine said. “In the third quarter I just realized I needed to be a leader and my teammates helped a lot, so it was easy.”
A big contribution was made by point guard Savannah Park who finished with 17 points while controlling the flow of the game on both ends.
“She made some hustle plays for us and some key steals that led to baskets,” Warner said. “She’s just a hustler and I’m grateful for her and her effort and her energy.”
Other key contributions were made by Ashli Averett and Brooke Wheeler who scored nine and seven points respectively. Mountain Crest was led by Kelsey Kartchner who scored a team-high 10 points and Kenzie Anderson who finished with eight.
“Mountain Crest is a great team,” Warner said. “They were a great team coming in, playing well and giving us a lot of pressure from the get-go.”
As heavy favorites going in Springville is thankful to just get through that first playoff game which can proved dicey at times. A new venue, an unfamiliar opponent along with an unusually early tip-off time can work to conspire against those expected to cruise toward the later rounds.
“I don’t care if we win by one or win by twenty — a win is a win and this week it’s huge because everyone is going to bring their best game and we need to make sure we do the same.” Warner said.
With the win Springville advances to the quarterfinals where it will take on Clearfield.