SPRINGVILLE The Provo Bulldogs were determined Wednesday night not to let Springville's high-scoring Ashley Kroneberger beat them.
But despite all the double-teams, traps, bumps and pressure the Bulldogs threw Kroneberger's way, the Red Devils junior forward beat them anyway.
In Springville's thrilling 55-53 win to open Region 7 girls basketball play, Kroneberger scored a game-high 32 points. More importantly, she scored 10 of Springville's 12 fourth-quarter points after Provo had overcome a 10-point deficit to take its first lead early in the final frame.
"When you have someone who has a knack to score like she does, it only makes sense to get the ball in her hands," Red Devils coach Nancy Warner said.
Ironically for Springville, Kroneberger's final dagger in Provo's side came from the free-throw line where she made 8-of-10 charity tosses in the final three minutes. For the game, however, the Red Devils made only 11 of 26 foul shots.
"It's a good thing she made them because she was about the only one who was," Warner said.
After falling behind 34-24 early in the third quarter, the Bulldogs slowly scratched back behind the inside scoring of Kelsey Nelson, Sara Heaton and some penetration hoops from Ashley Kuchar, Vanna Cox and Ethline Fa'atoafe. When Kuchar finished the third with an old-fashioned 2-and-1, Provo caught Springville for the first time at 43-43.
A free throw by Fa'atoafe to open the fourth gave the Bulldogs their first lead. The lead changed hands five times over the next five minutes until a trey by Kuchar with 3:25 remaining put Provo up 51-47. But Springville erased that deficit on four straight free throws by Kroneberger.
Following two free throws by Nelson, which put Provo back up by two, Kroneberger made only one of two from the line with a minute to play which left the Red Devils down by a point. However, Kroneberger stole a pass near midcourt and was immediately fouled. She made both foul shots to give Springville a 54-53 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
Provo then worked for a good shot, which led to an open look by Kuchar from behind the arc with 23 seconds remaining, but the shot bounced long. Kroneberger then went back to the line and hit one of two with 11.6 seconds left to put Springville up 55-53. The Bulldogs got one final chance to send the game into overtime when Sepa Ika got an open shot from the right baseline with four seconds remaining, but that shot also bounced off the back of the rim.
"Provo's a good team and they made the halftime adjustments they needed to make, which forced us into some turnovers and made things tough on us," Warner said. "But this is a huge win for us. Opening region play at 1-0 is a big step in us trying to accomplish our goals."
It wasn't totally a Kroneberger show for Springville. When the Red Devils opened up their big lead in the second and third quarters, guards Hollie Averett and Sadie Clements made Provo pay more than once for leaving them open. Genna Brown also delivered a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from up top which gave the Red Devils an eight-point halftime lead.For Provo, Kuchar scored 14 points and Nelson 13. The Bulldogs play at Payson on Friday, while the Red Devils have a non-league game at home against Emery.
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