OGDEN Murray saw what it considered a carbon copy of itself in scouting first-round opponent Springville.
Both teams relied on a lineup mainly composed of shorter, quicker guards. Both liked to press the ball on defense and force turnovers. And both preferred a frenetic offensive pace to a grind-it-out style usually popular among comparably undersized teams.
"It was such a good matchup, it felt like we were prepared for ourselves," Spartans coach Jason Workman said, following Murray's 54-48 4A first round victory over the Red Devils at the Dee Events Center.
If playing Springville felt like looking into a mirror for Murray, playing Bountiful may seem like running into a cousin at a family reunion.
There is definitely a sense of familiarity between the two teams. Before the 2005-06 season, the Braves and the Spartans competed against one another in Region 6. Players from both rosters most notably Bountiful forward Sean Carey and Murray guard Markus Duran have teamed up on the same summer league teams.
Duran knows enough from those summers together that the Spartans will have their work cut out for them in matching up with a Bountiful frontcourt featuring Carey and senior center Ben Aird.
"Bountiful will be monstrous down low," Duran said. "Tough to guard."
Murray will count on Rhett Gardiner to counterbalance some of that inside presence. Gardiner gives up a few inches to Aird and Carey. But he makes up for it in strength and a willingness to apply a hard-nosed brand of defense.
Braves coach Mike Maxwell doesn't think the Spartans subscribe to the formula that height equals domination.
"Springville had bigger guys and it didn't matter to Murray," Maxwell said. "I'm sure it's not going to matter again when they come play us."
Murray's best weapon against a taller team is its own supply of quick guards.
Duran has shown a penchant for lighting up the scoreboard all season. The Spartan junior averaged 19.1 points per game against Region 6 opponents and can be hard to stop once he gets going from the perimeter. Zach Lloyd provides another good option from the outside, distinguishing himself along with Duran as one of the top 10 3-point shooters in 4A during the regular season.
Bountiful might stick to the strategy it used to beat Granger 73-63 in the first round. Clogging the lanes to the basket and play the averages on the perimeter.
"We knew they were really good penetrators, so we told our guards just to sit back and don't try to be heroes and steal it," Carey said. "Just defend them when they shoot it. Then they get tired and can't hit them in the fourth quarter."
The Lancers' shooting percentages did drop as the game wore on. By game's end, they had taken 28 three-pointers compared to six for the Braves. But Granger scored on only nine of those attempts and shot only 40 percent from the field overall compared to 57 percent shooting by Bountiful.
Given the various mismatches, a sense of familiarity should help both teams greatly in terms of game preparation."Nothing will be a surprise," Workman said. "It's not like we have to travel 300 miles and play someone we haven't seen before."
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