Revenge. A piece of the region title. School pride.
The East girls basketball team had plenty of motivation in their 56-35 win over Murray Friday night.
"We've never beaten Murray in my four years," said senior guard Latoya Utuone, who finished with 12 points. The Spartans were also trying to bounce back after losing their second region game to West on Tuesday. The team's only other region loss was to Murray at the beginning of the season.
"It was tough for some of us," said Utuone of the loss. "We just had to let it go. It feels so good to play like this tonight."
The Leopards controlled the entire game with solid defense and a very balanced offensive attack. East was led in scoring by senior Lauren Porter, who finished with 15 points. In addition to Utuone's 12 points, Sehe Vakalahi added 12 points, Heather Hillam scored eight points and Sharale Singer added seven points and seven steals.
East coach Joann Orr said she didn't have to do much to motivate the team after Tuesday loss.
"We had two players (posts) out with injuries, and it's so hard to defend West without strong post players," Orr said. "They came back and it fired them up. They're highly competitive kids, and they don't like to lose. They have been very focused the last two days."
That focus came from a second chance at the only other team to beat East in region play this year.
"That was a bad game for us the first time," said Porter. "We wanted to get that sour taste out of our mouths."
Both Utuone and Porter said the fact that East has seven seniors on the roster, who have all played together throughout high school, makes them a stronger, smarter team.
"That's a big plus," said Porter, who signed a scholarship offer from the University of Utah for soccer Thursday night. "Everyone knows where they're supposed to be; we know the offense; we know each other. We have a lot more team chemistry. We trust each other."
Added Utuone, "We can read each other. We're all dependable, and we give it our all."
Murray made some runs at East, but never could consistently control the game on either end. The Spartans were led by junior guard Mel White, who scored 13 points, and sophomore guard Prasella Matemate, who finished with 11 points.
East's defensive pressure caused headaches for the Spartans, and the Leopards also beat Murray on the boards."This was a big game," said senior Lauren Porter. "That was a good feeling."