LAYTON — Normally a coach would be sick about sitting his best player on the bench because of foul trouble. And doing so in the first quarter against an undefeated team would usually mean disaster.
But Syracuse isn't just any team. The seniors on this squad have won 56 straight regular-season games and lost just a single game in three years.
Which is why, when Brittney Martin made her way to the bench after being called for her second foul late in the first quarter, she looked a little frustrated but not the least bit worried.
"I knew my teammates would step it up," said Martin, who led Syracuse to a dominating victory Friday over region rival Layton, 57-41.
And step it up they did.
Led by senior Makenlee Williams, the Titans never trailed and led by as many as 20 throughout the game, which pitted the state's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a much-anticipated battle of unbeatens.
"We were so pumped up to play this game, I can't even describe it," said Martin, who pretty much had her way on the court, scoring 23 points and grabbing six rebounds.
"Any win in our region is a big win," said Syracuse head coach Rob Reisbeck. "That's a good team, and there is a reason they were undefeated."
Despite foul trouble for Martin and Williams, the Titans' entire team outplayed the Lancers in the paint. They earned the edge on the boards and they caused the Lancers almost unmanageable trouble when Layton played man defense.
"We knew if we wanted to win the game we had to win the rebounding war," said Reisbeck.
And the coach knows just how strong the tradition of tough defense and solid rebounding is at Layton because he spent many years as Layton head coach Van Price's assistant.
"This is a tough place to play," Reisbeck said. "I coached here a long time and I've seen a lot of teams struggle here. And we've struggled here, in the past, trying to get out to a good start. I think we got over that today. That was the biggest thing."
The Lancers made some runs at the Titans, but their shots didn't fall and they had nearly two dozen turnovers to overcome.
When the Lancers did manage to stall the prolific Syracuse offense, it seemed Martin came up with a big move or a heady play. It's something her teammates have grown accustomed to seeing.
"She blows my mind," said Williams, who scored 15 points and was a workhorse on defense. "She does things and I just say, 'How did you do that? Will you teach me?'"
Williams and Martin said they don't think about just how phenomenal their career has been, including the fact they've lost just one game in the last three seasons.
"That loss motivates us," said Williams, of losing to Alta in the state championship last year. "It is the worse feeling ever."
They will only celebrate Friday's win for a few hours before they get back to work.
"We'll focus on Fremont," Reisbeck said.
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