TAYLORSVILLE For the last five days the Bingham Miners girls basketball team has been at the South Jordan school to practice.
It wasn't punishment; it was preparation.
Still, the Miners were awfully wired for a 9:30 a.m. basketball game.
"I think we were a little too amped up," said Bingham head coach Rand Rasmussen after the second-ranked Miners defeated Taylorsville 52-36 in the first game of the 5A state tournament's opening round at Salt Lake Community College. "When the ball is banking off the backboard you're amped. When it's short, you're choking. We were just too amped up, too wired."
Part of the energy may have come from the impressive crowd that nearly filled the Bruins' Activity Center. Both schools had hundreds of students in the stands and they added a lot of energy to the early-morning environment.
"We've been getting up for the last five days for 7 a.m. practices so we'd be used to this," said Rasmussen.
The Miners held a slight lead most of the game, but the Warriors defense managed to keep it very close until the fourth quarter. That's when Taylorsville coach Jace Hymas said his players began to tire.
"We only play seven kids," Hymas said. "To hold the No. 2 team in the state to 31 points in three quarter, I felt pretty good about that. These generic, softball/basketball players did a good job ... We just ran out of horses in the fourth quarter. We ran out of gas."
The Miners scored first on a basket by senior Monique Bruggeman who had to leave the game a few minutes later when she picked up two offensive fouls within a minute of each other. Five different Miners scored two points each in the first quarter.
Taylorsville's got four 3-pointers from senior guard Katie Balmforth, who finished with 12 points, while Merisha Black led the team with 14 points.
Rasmussen said he was happy about how his team shared the ball and remained composed in a tight game.
Bruggeman started the scoring in the fourth quarter making two free throws. Taylorsville's Tia Palauni answered with a bucket and then Malori Dixon hit a jump shot. Bruggeman followed that up with a nice move under the basket and finished the game with 10 points.
Miner point guard Nicole Yazzie didn't score until the fourth quarter, but she was a big reason the team stayed a step ahead of the Warriors. She finished with 10 points after hitting two 3-point shots. Dixon added nine points, while Justine Bates scored seven points, including one 3-point shot with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter than gave the Miners all the momentum they'd need to finish the game.
Rasmussen said his team was happy to get a win in the first round and ready to face either American Fork or Layton in the quarterfinals Thursday. As it turned out the Cavemen won the tournament's second game against Layton fairly easily. American Fork and Bingham play at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Hymas said his last words to his team were simply to "keep their heads up.""At the beginning of the year, we didn't even expect to make it to state," he said. "They've responded well. They epitomize the concept of team work."
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