TAYLORSVILLE – Maddy Eaton wants to win as much as any player on any team in the 6A playoffs. But she’s taking a different tack as a senior helping a program that didn’t even make the playoffs last season.
“I’ve been focusing on being more relaxed and just enjoying it because it’s a great opportunity to come and play at state,” said Eaton, who helped Lone Peak defeat Davis, 54-37, in the first round of the 6A playoffs Monday at Salt Lake Community College. She chooses to “lead by example. If me and Abby (Conlee) stay relaxed and calm, and we don’t get rattled like the pressure is on us, then it kind of spreads to the rest of the team.”
That strategy worked as Lone Peak was calm and confident from the opening tip.
“I didn’t think they showed any nervousness at all,” said head coach Nancy Warner. “I think they came out ready to play.”
And even with the most experienced squads, the state tournament can be a brutal experience.
“That first one is always, it can be a little rough and a little slow,” Warner said. “But they handled the emotion really well. And they came out and executed our game plan. So it shows a lot on their part, the focus that they had.”
Lone Peak controlled the game from the start, leading 25-11 at halftime. The Knights were led by Eaton and Jane LeRoy, who scored 12 points each, while Conlee added nine points. Eaton also led the rebounding effort with eight boards.
Eaton said the team’s confidence was high because it earned an important victory at the end of region play.Comment on this story
“We were really confident coming in because we had that big win against Bingham,” she said of the second-ranked team. “And it just kind of propelled us forward into the tournament. Our practices have been great, and we’ve been going hard. I just wanted to dominate this game.”
Warner said the team’s focus was on defense.
“Defense is where it needs to start,” Warner said. “And that’s really been a focus of ours, especially late in the second half of region, is setting the tone on the defensive end. They’ve really taken that to heart. … That’s where it starts for us.”
The victory means Lone Peak will face Riverton in Wednesday's quarterfinals.