SPRINGVILLE — The Springville girls basketball team may be undefeated, but its players don't believe they're perfect.
In fact, their goal heading into Tuesday's game against Maple Mountain was to fix some defensive issues that have made for too-close-for-comfort wins lately.
"We beat them big last time," said senior guard Savannah Park after the Red Devils earned a 59-43 victory over the Golden Eagles on a night when they retired the jersey of 2011 graduate, Lexi Eaton, who now plays at BYU. "(But) our goal tonight was to pick up our defense. The past few games our defense has been allowing a lot of points scored. Our goal tonight was just shut it down defensively and let the offense come through that."
Coach Nancy Warner and her players all said they're not focused on their 16-0 record or No. 1 ranking in 4A, but simply on what they can do better every day they step on the court.
"That's what we're focusing on everyday in practice is just focus on what we can do better," said Warner. "In this second round in region, where we're playing everyone a second time, we've got to focus on those things that we need to improve on to make sure we're continually getting better."
In fact, senior Malia Nawahine said getting a second chance at region rivals is an opportunity to learn and prove what this team is capable of achieving.
"It's a chance to redeem ourselves," said Nawahine, who led the team with 24 points and nine rebounds Tuesday.
Nawahine, who will play for the University of Utah next season, led the team on both ends of the court with frenetic effort. In the fourth quarter with the Red Devils sitting on a 13-point lead, she grabbed a defensive rebound, and then sprinted to the other end of the court in time to grab an offensive board and put it back for two points.
"That's what she does for us," said Warner. "She's so athletic on both ends of the floor. She's a great defender and oftentimes defends the better opponent on the opposite end. At the same time, she's a scorer who can get to the basket, but also knock down the 3. I think she had a well-rounded game tonight and made some great moves."
Nawahine's effort was consistent throughout the game and a large part of the reason that Maple Mountain couldn't sustain its runs. Early in the fourth quarter an errant Springville pass looked to be headed out of bounds, but Nawahine dove to save it and flipped it to Park as she went out of bounds. Park hit a jump shot and extended the Red Devil lead back to 10 points.
Maple Mountain had some promising runs, but the defensive effort of the Red Devils was too much for the Golden Eagles to overcome.
Tarin Strosser led Maple Valley with 17 points, while Aleksa Gappmayer added 10 points. Strosser had some great drives and led the team defensively as well.
Both Park and Nawahine saw improvement in Springville's defense, which Park believes comes from a mental commitment and focus.
"I think we weren't being as mentally tough as we usually are," Nawahine said. "So in this game we had more hustle and more effort."