TAYLORSVILLE — Molly Erickson's free throw didn't win the game for the Miners.
But the Bingham bench went crazy when she made the first of two foul shots anyway.
"It's the best part of the game," said senior Brooke Blonquist after Bingham defeated Hunter 78-48 in the first round of the 5A State Tournament Monday morning at Salt Lake Community College. "It's one of our main goals to play so well that the younger kids get in the game."
The Miners did that in the first tournament game of the day (9:30 a.m.) jumping out to a lead they never relinquished.
The fact that the Miners played so well meant more girls got in the game. Erickson is just a freshman and head coach Rand Rasmussen pointed out her free throw as one of the many highlights for him.
"When these young kids get a chance to get on the floor in the tournament it's fun to watch," said Rasmussen. "Molly gets a chance to make a free throw in a big venue, and hopefully she takes something out of it. It's really fun to see my young kids get on the court. I love teaching the young kids because they're going to be my varsity someday."
Blonquist was huge for the Miners in the paint, especially when it came to defensive rebounds. She finished with 10 points, and said the team was just excited to be playing in the state tournament.
"I think we were really focused today," she said smiling. "This counts."
The team got significant contributions from both veterans and younger players, including Chantee Renouard, who scored 14 points, Leticia Lewis, who scored 11 points and Summer Yack, who finished with nine points.
"I'm glad we're growing up," said Rasmussen. "Any time you win a tournament game you're happy. I have a lot of good kids. I've never liked the one-man show. I want the other team to have to work just as hard when we make a change."
The Wolverines seemed a little timid in the first quarter, but they stepped up the intensity in the second quarter and at times in the second half. Hunter was led by junior Dezz Ramos, who scored 21 points, and made some impressive stops on defense.
The Wolverines are playing for a new coach in Todd Wood, who was Rasmussen's assistant for many years at Bingham until last year.
"The most important thing for us to take away is the tournament experience," Wood said. "We hope this is a new tradition, that we know we're a good team and deserve to be here."
He said they just got out-played by Bingham.
"We matched up with a much better team, a lot deeper team," he said. "We got out coached, out played."
He said there were positives for the Wolverines to build upon, and as a staff, they plan to join the girls in putting in some time during the summer.
"What we did here was a good thing, but we need to work harder in the off-season."
Bingham will face the winner of the Pleasant Grove/Lone Peak game on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
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