TAYLORSVILLE — For some teams, a 35-12 lead at halftime might be cause to relax a bit.
For Lone Peak, it was fuel for a fire that’s been building since they had to watch the playoffs from the stands last season.
“I think we're just motivated to keep the intensity the same,” said Abby Conlee after Lone Peak earned a quarterfinal win over Riverton 65-40 Wednesday afternoon. “During the second half, we came out even wanting to win more. We've tried to think of the score as 0-0. ... It’s anyone's game coming out of a half, and it's just all-out defense. We focused on defense, and that created our offense.”
Conlee said the Knights have a simple philosophy, no matter the opponent.
“Our mentality is always ‘Nothing easy — not for us, not for them,’” she said. “We focus on defense and it creates our offense.”
Senior Maddy Eaton led the Knights' scoring effort with 26 points, and 18 of those were scored in the first half. Conlee and Makale Easton added 10 points each, with Jane LeRoy adding seven points and four assists.
Riverton was led by Avalon Miller, who scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Instead of relaxing with a 23-point lead, the Knights actually discussed how that almost cost them their first-round game on Monday.
“We talked exactly about that at halftime because that's what happened to us on Monday,” said head coach Nancy Warner. “We did come out a slow start and had kind of a stagnant third quarter. I don't think we scored for three straight minutes on Monday. And so we focused on that at halftime today and really just made sure that they got out here to get warm again and then just, you know, challenged them. The game is not over two quarters down. There is still the same amount of time left, so it really is just finishing strong."
The Knights were without Conlee’s leadership on the court most of the first half, as she picked up two quick fouls and had to play her role from the bench.
“It was tough to sit out almost the entire first half, but I just tried to get my teammates pumped up and cheered for them,” Conlee said. “I have complete trust in them and my coaches and just their defense and their ability to work together, it's kept us in the game."
Maile Hunt played well in Conlee's place, scoring six points and earning three rebounds.
Warner said the team is playing with an even greater sense of confidence since earning a critical region win over Bingham. That was evident from the tip-off of Wednesday’s game.Comment on this story
“I think they just showed their confidence in each other, and they were confident in what they can do,” Warner said. “I think that win was huge for us to realize that we are able to beat a team, like, we are able to step up and beat a good team like Bingham, and then we just rode that momentum, I think, with that confidence.”
The Knights will try to continue riding that wave of confidence when they face second-ranked Copper Hills in Friday’s semifinal. The game will pit the top-scoring 6A offense against the Knights' defense.