TAYLORSVILLE — As Bonneville senior Emilie Volk prepared to play in the first round of the 4A state tournament Tuesday, she watched some players from another team cry as their season ended in a loss.
"That was us last year," said Volk, who helped the second-ranked Bonneville Lakers to a first-round win, 50-31, over Maple Mountain on Tuesday at Salt Lake Community College. "It tears you apart because you worked so hard and end up short. It's hard to even describe how it feels."
The emotions associated with falling short of their goal are so intense that Lakers coach Mike Russell doesn't have to do much to keep his team working hard.
"It helps to have done this before," said Russell.
He praised Maple Mountain's defense and said his team would have to do better to continue winning basketball games.
"They did a great job taking away the backside," he said. "We need more fire. ... We take a lot of pride in being able to play defense and to have them drive through for a layup, we have to do a better job of stopping that defensively."
The Lakers jumped out to a quick advantage that led to the undefeated squad owning a 23-9 lead at halftime. But then Maple Mountain turned up the defensive heat to hold the Lakers in check.
However, the Golden Eagles weren't able to generate enough offensively to cut into the deficit, and Bonneville did what it needed the rest of the way to book a place in the quarterfinals.
After losing last season, Russell said his team takes nothing for granted this season.
"The nice thing about this group is that they're not satisfied and that's a good way to be," said Russell. "They're hungry."
The Lakers have several players that can lead in scoring, but Tuesday the offensive spark came from two underclassmen. Abby Toller, a sophomore, led the team with 12 points, and Sam Flilaga, a freshman, had a great second half to finish with 10.
"They both always contribute, but today they were really excellent on slips and finishing," said Volk, who contributed nine points in the win. "We're pretty even all around, but we need things like that in the state tournament."
Meanwhile, senior Aleksa Gappmayer led the Golden Eagles with 14 points, and Tarin Strosser added nine points. Those two were the only Maple Mountain players on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when Liz Eaton and Kylie Porter scored four points each.
Maple Mountain coach Cory Green acknowledged his team's struggles offensively.
"Defensively I was happy," he said. "Offensively we got a little stagnant, but hopefully will learn some lessons for our younger players. Aleksa is the only one who's ever seen the floor in a state tournament game."
Green said he watched about six hours of film on Bonneville hoping to find a way to stop its prolific offense.
"They have multiple threats," he said. "We tried to prepare for that, but I knew we'd have to do everything right to beat them."
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