WEST JORDAN — Just when it looked like the Jaguars were going to blow Copper Hills out of the game, the Grizzlies stormed back.
But in Tuesday's 69-60 win, the West Jordan girls basketball team did something they hadn't been able to do so far this season.
They played hard, regardless of the score for four quarters, and in doing so, the Jaguars were able to withstand several runs by a tenacious Grizzlies squad.
"We could use a little bit more consistency over course of the game," said West Jordan head coach Carlson Boudreaux. "But that was as much of a tough, focused effort as we've played all year."
The biggest difference might have been evident in the third quarter. The Jaguars owned a 36-22 lead at halftime, but the Grizzlies came out fired up in the second half. They opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run that cut the lead to five points.
West Jordan called a time out while the Copper Hills band began playing Journey's "Don't stop believin'."
When the Jaguars came out of the time out, Haley Carle immediately drove to the basket and scored on a layup. The team made mistakes, but they didn't let those mistakes determine the outcome of the game.
"In other games, we dwelled on things like that," said Boudreaux. "We moped and hung our heads a lot instead of playing through adversity. I'm very, very proud of how they came out and played. They easily could have said, 'Oh boy, the lead is six or seven, it's over. But they didn't give up and I'm really proud of that."
The coach said he and his staff have been frustrated because of the potential they see in West Jordan's players.
"If they weren't so talented, so capable, it wouldn't frustrate me as much as it does," he said. "I know how they can play."
It was energizing for the Jaguar players to be able to show outsiders what they've known they were capable of all season.
"Communication is the biggest difference, and playing together," said the team's lone senior Annie Oliver, who led the team with 17 points.
Added Lejla Hadzialijagic, "We shared the ball tonight. For once we didn't give up, we just played through it."
Oliver said the team is starting to realize that if they rely on each other, they're going to be more successful.
"When we play together, we've realized we can do what we need to," said Oliver.
And what's that?
"Winning," said Hadzialijagic smiling. She added 16 points in the win, while Haley Carle scored 13 and Markii Ashton finished with 12 points.
Boudreaux hopes Tuesday night's win proves the points he's been trying to make in practices.
"They listened tonight," he said. "They gave a concerted, focused effort for the entire game. In that sense, I'm hoping this is a turning point."
Copper Hills fought hard the entire game, as well, with sophomore Savannah Sandberg having a great second half. She scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half. Senior Desirae Cruse added 14 points and Sarah Midgley scored 12 points in the loss.