TAYLORSVILLE — Nerves were understandable. Timidity was not.

Mountain Crest coach Brittany Phillips saw her team struggling as Salem Hills made a comeback in the second quarter, and she took a few minutes to ease their fears.

"We definitely had some nerves," said senior Jordi Willden after the Mustangs earned a first-round win in the 4A State Tournament with a 59-36 win over Salem Hills. "Our coach did an awesome job of calming us down. She said, 'You can be nervous, but you have to play hard.' They made that run and we kind of panicked."

The halftime talk also included a reminder of what wins big games.

"I talked to them when I was playing and how everyone talked about the reason we won was because of our defense," said Phillips, who played for Mountain View as Brittany Tressler in 99-02.

The Mustangs came out and did a much better job rebounding and playing defense. They held the Skyhawks to just seven points. Meanwhile they found their own offensive confidence.

Emily Moore had some nice plays for the Mustangs. She finished with 10 points and Phillips said her confidence has been steadily growing over the last few weeks.

"She so athletic," said Phillips. "Late in the season she's really built a lot of confidence. She's really helped our team out."

Phillips said the confidence came as she earned "small victories" throughout the season.

Brianna Jessop, who has committed to play for BYU-Hawaii, led the Mustangs with 14 points. Willden added 12 points.

Willden said they felt confident coming in, even as the struggled with nerves.

"We just want to keep playing," said the senior. "We just play to our potential."

Jessop agreed with Willden that her coach's peptalk helped them find the toughness that helped them earn a region title with an undefeated record.

"Don't be afraid," she quoted Phillips as saying. "Go play like you know how."

The Mustangs are just excited to be playing in the tournament but they would like another shot at Springville. They had a 13 point lead at half time against the defending 4A champs earlier this season but ended up losing.

"I would love to play Springville — or Mountain View," said Willden.

The Skyhawks were led by Lyssa Hanks, who scored 12 points. Missy Belliston added eight points for the young team.

Mountain Crest will take on Timpanogos on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

e-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com