RICHFIELD — One day at a time.
Since opening their season with eight straight losses, all the Millard Eagles could do was work hard every day in practice to get better. At this point, thanks to the work they put in, the Eagles hardly resemble the team they were at the start of the season.
Millard defeated North Sevier, 40-35, in the 2A quarterfinals at the Sevier Valley Center on Thursday afternoon. The Wolves were one of the teams to defeat the Eagles during their early-season struggles, and found out that Millard is a changed ballclub.
The Eagles advance to play South Sevier in the semifinals Friday.
"We worked every day at practice," said Millard center Joel Swallow. "I'm glad we won. It was a good win for us."
The Eagles, who lost to North Sevier by nine in December, never trailed in Thursday's game. Swallow got Millard off to a fast start, scoring all of the team's seven points in the first quarter. He also anchored the Eagles' defense, and finished the game with 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
"I was happy with his defense," Millard coach Stoney Myers said of his 6-foot-9 center. "He alters a lot of shots. He's a presence inside."
North Sevier, however, came storming back. The Wolves went on a 9-0 run in the game's next two and a half minutes to get within a basket.
"There were spells where we kind of lost our composure a little bit," Myers said. "We were timid about going to the basket. I think that's a big mistake that a lot of teams make is you got to keep doing what you're doing that got you to that point. But our kids came through. (Robison) stepped up and hit some foul shots for us."
Swallow also sank his share of free throws, and Robison made a basket to put the Eagles up, 34-29. The Wolves were unable to make another serious threat.
The Eagles got contributions from several players. Rhodes had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Robison had seven points, 10 rebounds and six steals. Pancho Alcala had seven rebounds. Millard's defense was solid throughout the game, as it held North Sevier to 29.3 percent shooting.
Millard is in the semifinals for the first time in four seasons. The Eagles know they have their work cut out for them against top-ranked South Sevier, which beat them by 24 and 30 points in previous games this season. But Millard is confident after making it this far.
And ironically, the last time the Eagles were in the semis they defeated a top-ranked South Sevier team to advance.
"South Sevier is such a good program," Myers said. "They're what I try to model ours after. They're well-coached, got good athletes and more than anything I think their kids understand the game. But anything can happen from here on out."