SPANISH FORK Whenever the Timpanogos girls basketball team did not have the ball Friday night, its fans reminded players with little hand-held "Tough D" signs what it took to regain possession.
Whether the signs deserve the credit or not, the defense the T-Wolves threw on the Spanish Fork Dons played a major role in Timpanogos' critical 56-49 Region 4 win. Specifically, the ferocious full-court pressure the T-Wolves implied in the first half led to several transition baskets and pushed Timpanogos out to a 21-point second-quarter lead.
The T-Wolves began the game clicking on all cylinders and finished the first quarter ahead 17-9 behind a strong inside game of Amy Weitzel and Morgan Bailey, and the penetration and shooting of guards Morgan Freestone, Megan Bishop and Amanda Larson. When they really began pestering Spanish Fork's guards in the second quarter, they went on a 13-0 run to take a 30-9 lead.
The defensive pressure also got Spanish Fork in foul trouble, and the T-Wolves made them pay by hitting 14-of-20 from the line. Every time the Dons made a run, a basket by Bishop who nailed four treys in the game ended the momentum.
Slowly, however, the Dons figured out how to handle the pressure and eventually turned the foul-trouble tide the other way. One-by-one the T-Wolves' starters began sitting down with foul trouble in the second half, which allowed Spanish Fork to gain some ground on the free-throw line and get some transition baskets of its own.
The Dons were in the bonus for the final few minutes of the third quarter and in the double bonus the entire fourth quarter. Also, Spanish Fork owned the boards in the second half and got several second-chance baskets.
Timpanogos started the final frame leading 50-35, but the Dons scored the first eight points of the period to cut the score to 50-43, at which time T-Wolves coach Liz Darger put her foul-plagued starters back in the game.
Freestone quickly responded by driving the middle for a running layup to put Timpanogos back up by nine. Seconds later Bishop popped in a leaning jumper to make the lead 11.
A put-back basket by Spanish Fork's Erin Redd and a fast-break layup by Jenna Johnson cut the lead back to six at 54-47. But a steal and layup seconds later by Larsen put the game away for Timpanogos.
Bishop led all scorers with 18, with Freestone adding 10 for Timpanogos. The Dons were led by Johnson and Redd, who scored 14 each.The victory by the T-Wolves puts them in a second-place tie with Spanish Fork at 3-2, two games behind league-leading American Fork.