Offensively, I thought my kids executed. We were running our flex sets and we were getting 30-second possessions; we were getting back doors, opens threes and crashing the boards. We just kept that 20-point cushion. —Juan Diego coach Josh Archuleta
WEST VALLEY CITY — It didn't take long for the Juan Diego girls basketball team to take control.
One minute, the 3A quarterfinal matchup with defending champion Desert Hills was close, and just 9:42 later, the undefeated Soaring Eagle had blown it open, cruising to a 73-58 victory at the Maverik Center on Thursday evening.
In fact, during that short, almost 10-minute stretch across the first and second quarters, Juan Diego turned a one-point deficit into a 27-3 run, and stole all of the game's momentum from that point on.
"Offensively, I thought my kids executed," said Juan Diego coach Josh Archuleta. "We were running our flex sets and we were getting 30-second possessions; we were getting back doors, opens threes and crashing the boards. We just kept that 20-point cushion."
Archuleta's team got on a roll with the help of a halfcourt trap, which had the Thunder puzzled during much of the first half. That defense was responsible in part for the 32 turnovers Desert Hills gave up and the 30 points the Soaring Eagle scored as a result.
"I think they made some adjustments at halftime where they started bringing more girls to (the ball)," Archuleta said. "But first half, they'd cross halfcourt and we had two or three girls who played the passing lanes. You could kinda just see it wearing on them a little bit."
Point guard Monique Mills led the Soaring Eagle from start to finish. She finished the game with a team-high 30 points, 17 of which she had scored by halftime, and Dominique Mills, Monique's sister, had 21 points. The two hit four 3-pointers and shot a combined 44.7 percent from the floor.
Monique and Dominique pulled down 12 and eight rebounds, respectively, almost half of the team's total 44 boards, which turned into 23 second-chance points for Juan Diego.
"That was a dogfight all the way through," Archuleta said. "Crashing the boards is really what kept us up in the game."
The Thunder were led by the stellar play of sophomore Ashley Beckstrand. The 5-foot-7 guard totaled 30 points with five rebounds and three steals.
"That kid's amazing. She was 4 out of 5 from 3. You can't do nothing about that. That's out of control," Archuleta said of Beckstrand. "She's the best kid I've seen. The stuff that she does, offense and defense, we threw eight different kids at her, she fouled one of my kids out."
With the win, the Soaring Eagle improve to 23-0 on the season and will play the winner of Bear River and Juab in the 3A semifinals at 4:10 p.m. on Friday.
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.