TAYLORSVILLE — Murray’s wait was a long one on Tuesday, but it was definitely worth it.
Playing in the 9 p.m. nightcap of the 5A state tournament at Salt Lake Community College — the last of eight games — Murray came out on fire against Viewmont building a big lead in the first half and then holding on for the 52-42 victory.
“It’s been a long day. You’re excited, you’re waiting. It makes for a long day, especially after a full week without a game,” said Murray coach Holly Gillette.
The victory was the first playoff win for the Spartans since 2015 and their first appearance in the state tournament since 2016.
Haylie Jensen led the way for Murray with 16 points, while Isis Beh added 8 points and 10 rebounds.
Murray came out and dominated the first quarter, racing to a 19-3 lead after the first quarter and then maintaining the 16-point cushion until halftime.
“Defensively we were getting hands on things. We were moving really well in our half-court trap,” said Gillette, whose team forced Viewmont into 11 turnovers and held it to 27 percent shooting in the first half.
In the second half, however, it was Viewmont’s pressure that started causing problems for Murray. That allowed Viewmont to methodically chip away at the lead, cutting it to six points on two different occasions in the fourth quarter.Comment on this story
Gillette periodically called timeouts to try and settle her team, and eventually the same defensive stops the Spartans were getting in the first half made their way into the fourth quarter too.
“Struggled obviously with the pressure, weren’t clean with the ball, too many turnovers, but played solid enough defense to get it done,” Gillette said. “I feel like that’s one of our biggest strengths is our defense. We talk well, we communicate well, we move pretty well. They play together defensively.”
Murray finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field, while it held Viewmont to 33 percent.
The Spartans advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals against Skyridge at 2:30 p.m.