It was only the first game of the season, but Springville's young basketball players are already looking to put their team on the map.
"We don't want to be known as the underdogs," said guard Ashley Kroneburger after the Red Devils' 64-58 win at West High. "Our team is really motivated toward each other. No one is selfish."
The victory was important to the squad for a number of reasons. First, it has a new coach former Ms. Basketball and BYU standout Nancy (Seljaas) Warner. Second, it has a lot of talent but not a lot of experience as the team has just one senior.
Kroneburger said she felt a little pressure to come out on fire and lead the team in the first half, but her coach helped her put things in perspective and it showed as she dominated the second-half. She finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
"In the first half, she was trying to force things," Warner said. "I just told her to let things come to her."
Warner said they had some first-game jitters but really showed their potential against a very tough West defense.
"Maybe we were a little too aggressive with the foul situation being what it was," Warner said. "But they played well. They work hard all the time."
The game was very tight in the first half with the teams exchanging leads and playing very tough defense. The Panthers held a 23-22 lead at half-time, but the Red Devils came out very aggressive on both ends of the court. The offense was led by Genna Brown, who finished with 21 points, and Kroneburger who drove the lane and knocked down outside shots to keep the West defense stretched to its limits.
The Panthers answered back point for point, led by Fusi Lutui, who finished with a team high 15 points, and Fesi Vaisigano, who added 12 points. Both players were also key in rebounding, and Lutui had two steals. Guard Krystal Mascarenas also played well on both ends with four steals and 11 points.
The score was tied 42-42 at the end of the third quarter. The difference in the fourth quarter was Kroneburger's ability to draw fouls and Brown's ability to knock down 3-point shots. She finished with five 3-pointers.
With the accurate free-throw shooting and tough defense, the Red Devils went up by six points after Brown's fifth 3-point shot with three minutes left in the game, which would be enough to seal the win for Springville."It was a good game, and hopefully we can continue on this win streak," she said with a smile. "There's nowhere to go but up."