TAYLORSVILLE — The Hillcrest Huskies likely didn’t know what hit them.
Seeing its lead over Hillcrest cut to 23-21 with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter Thursday, undefeated Bonneville went on an all-out blitz to end the quarter up 20 points, 42-22. The decisive 19-1 run, which included a barrage of 3-point baskets, all but finished off the pesky Huskies and sent the Lakers into the 4A state semifinals with a 61-30 win.
Bonneville's amazing third-quarter effort was a complete departure from the sluggish play that defined the first half, which ended with the Lakers holding a slim 19-18 advantage. Early on, the Huskies came out tenaciously and were able to answer anything the undefeated Lakers threw at them.
Things changed dramatically after the half, however.
Bonneville coach Mike Russell made some key changes and simply encouraged his players to focus on the things they do well.
“We just needed to realize that we needed to play our game,” said Bonneville's Kayla Eilertson. “We needed to do what we do well and focus on our strengths — keep our energy high and do what we need to do.”
Eilertson led a complete team effort with a game-high 15 points, which included two 3-pointers during the key third-quarter run. Bonneville shot 6-13 from behind the arc with four of those coming in the third quarter.
“That’s the way it’s been for us all year,” Russell said about his team’s balanced scoring. “If you look at our scores and our stats we have three players that average in double figures and two other girls capable of stepping up. I wasn’t surprised who was doing the scoring.”
Another big key for Bonneville was to shut down the player who was doing the scoring and most everything else for Hillcrest. Whitney Nemelka finished the first half with a team-high eight points, but finished with just nine due to a defensive switch by Russell.
“We came out in a box-and-1 (on Nemelka),” Russell explained. “We just had one person chase her around, trying to make her give (the ball) up and not get it back.”
The strategy worked like a charm, as did a focus on pushing the ball up the court at every opportunity.Comment on this story
“We’re at our best when we push it and our team is very unselfish and we don’t care who scores it,” Russell said.
With the win, Bonneville advances to the 4A state semifinals, where it will take on Springville, which is also undefeated on the year, in a highly anticipated contest.