TAYLORSVILLE – Some days it feels like game loves you as much as you love it.

The shots fall.

The rebounds find you.

The passes go exactly where they should, and you couldn’t feel more in sync with your teammates and coaches.

On those days, it’s easy to understand why your heart belongs to the hardwood.

But Tuesday was not that day for Emily Isaacson and her Box Elder teammates. Some of it was Highland’s stifling defense. But some of it was just the struggle of playing through missed opportunities and miscues.

“We were ready for this game,” Isaacson said after Box Elder earned a first-round 5A state tournament win over Highland 36-23. “Highland played some pretty good defense. They held us to a pretty low-scoring game. That’s not really how we play.”

She said the Rams “packed the paint” and forced them to shoot from the perimeter.

“We took a lot of outside shots,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “I didn’t make a lot of outside shots. I wish I would have made more. I’ll work on it. Next game. … I’m just glad we came out with a win.”

And in the first round of the playoffs, there has to be gratitude for the ability to grind out a win, even when it feels like the game is conspiring against you.

“We got our first game out of the way,” said Isaacson, who finished with eight points and four rebounds. “Now we can come and just focus on the next game.”

Bees head coach Aaron Dooley praised the Rams for forcing the Bees to be uncomfortable. “They’re good defensively,” he said. “They’re solid. They know where they want to be; they had a plan; they knew how they were going to take us out of what we wanted to do. So we had to go to our second and third options, and we just didn’t hit some shots we would normally hit.”

The Rams were led by Kaija Glasker, who scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Chelsey Cowburn, who added eight points and five rebounds.

Morgan Reeder led the Bees with 14 points and seven rebounds. Both Reeder and Isaacson earned four steals, while Jenna Mortensen added five points and three assists.

The Bees defense was led by Annika Quayle, who grabbed 10 rebounds and two steals.

Despite the frustration, Dooley said the approach doesn’t really change.

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“Run the offense,” he said of what he told his players as their offensive woes persisted. “We talked about shot selection, and then we say, ‘Hey, if that’s not working, then you’ve got to get to the rim.’ Just try to find some way, keep passing the ball and find that third shot. Sometimes we struggle with that, so credit to Highland. … I thought our girls responded well and they handled those moments. We did a good job.”

The win means Box Elder moves on to play Wasatch in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Isaacson said one frustrating game won’t change who they are or what they’re working to achieve.

“We’re the swarm, the bees, the swarm of bees,” she said smiling. “We go around on defense, we’re scrappy, we like to push the ball, and we play as a team.”