I’m so invested in this that it’s crazy. I’m just wound up like a clock. It’s fun but it’s stressful. It isn’t the hobby-type coaching job I thought it would be. —St. Joseph coach Joe Cravens
RICHFIELD — When Joe Cravens took over the St. Joseph girls basketball team, he thought it would be relaxing. A break from the stresses brought on by Division I hoops.
When his team took the floor at the 1A state tournament in Richfield on Thursday evening, all of those feelings flooded back.
“I’m so invested in this that it’s crazy,” he said after his defending-champion Jayhawks defeated Wayne 42-32 in the quarterfinal round. “I’m just wound up like a clock. It’s fun but it’s stressful. It isn’t the hobby-type coaching job I thought it would be.”
Cravens’ team held a five-point lead after the first eight minutes, and then the Jayhawks and Wayne Badgers played toe-to-toe over the next two quarters. The Badgers adjusted their defense and kept St. Joseph at bay though much of the game.
“They’ve always given us trouble with their pressure,” Cravens said. “They took us out of what we wanted to do half court and we just had to scramble. I think he out coached me. He did such a good job of what I knew they would do.”
Inside their own halftime locker room, Cravens asked his player to make just one adjustment: “I told my girls, ‘how about if we make some shots in the second half?’ ” he said. “We hit enough, I guess, so I thought that was one of my better adjustments.”
St. Joseph entered the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, 32-26, and held onto the cushion with free throws. Liz Tolmon hit 4-of-5 late attempts and Danielle Shinaut add another pair. Jessica Bischoff led the Jayhawks’ scoring with 11 points, nine of which were scored in the second half, including five in the final quarter.
Courtney Jackson led Wayne on the offensive end. She totaled 13 points and scored nine of them from the foul line.
“He had a very solid defensive game plan. Every post catch that Liz got, they just ganged up on her,” Cravens said. “They did a nice job, we were just able to hit a couple shots. We got a few lucky breaks. We were just very fortunate.”
Wayne will now play Piute Friday at noon in the consolation bracket while St. Joseph advances to the semifinals and a 7:30 p.m. matchup with Bryce Valley.
“I still go do a little TV on the side,” the St. Joseph coach said. “It will be a Mountain West game and they’re talking about preparing for UNLV. I tell them, ‘You know what? I’ve got Bryce Valley. I’ve got problems of my own.’ ”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.