TAYLORSVILLE — The young Springville team didn't play perfectly, but they did play with the kind of poise that's usually reserved for much more experienced teams.
"It was scary," said Springville guard Savannah Park after the Red Devils defeated Sky View 62-55 to earn a berth into Friday's 4A semifinal against Mtn. Crest. "We made some mistakes, but at the end we refused to lose. But it was definitely a scary one."
It was a close game until the final few minutes when Springville managed to put the game away at the foul line. Springville lost two players, including team leader Aliza Allred, to fouls, but that didn't slow the Red Devils, who came into the tournament as a four seed.
"The next person just comes in and is ready to go," said Springville head coach Nancy Warner. "I knew somebody had to step up for us to win. Sky View is a great team, and somebody had to step up at some point."
Both teams had a number of turnovers — some were miscues, while others were great defensive efforts. The effort from both sides was impressive, and in the end, Springville's ability to hold onto the ball and hit free throws gave the Red Devils the edge.
Only Park had any playoff experience prior to Springville's current tournament run, and that was very limited minutes as she spent most of last season recovering from a broken leg. So the fact that Springville is now back in the semifinals when it hadn't even managed to crack the rankings this year is impressive.
"It's way exciting," said Warner smiling. "I don't even know how to describe it. Nobody expected it."
The team has had to work hard to find it's identity in a region that required its best effort every day. Despite the difficulty of losing some heartbreakers, Warner said the competitive season has prepared them for this week.
"They're playing so hard and I'm really proud of them," Warner said.
Malia Nawahine had another stellar performance with 24 points and 14 rebounds. She also had five steals. Park added 13 points, four assists and four steals, while Averett finished with eight points before fouling out.
Dannika Webb was a beast for the Bobcats, especially defensively, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, six assists and seven steals.
Park hit some of those critical free throws down the stretch, and she said she looked at as a chance for redemption.
"There have been a few times when I haven't been able to finish this year," she said. "It stinks. It's one of the worst feelings to know you could have changed the outcome."
And it is equally rewarding, to know hitting those shots contributed to the team's Cinderella season.
"I am super proud, so proud of how the whole team showed mental toughness," said Warner.