The score of the box
Despite the RPI rankings showing Springville as the sixth-best team heading into the 5A State Tournament, everyone knew who the real team to beat was.
It was the team on a 12-game winning streak, the team that defended like offense was irrelevant and the team that was there, did.
Springville showed BYU Saturday afternoon why it’s the best program in 5A, as it led most of the game in a convincing 54-43 win over Lehi for its second straight state championship.
After going 5-5 in the preseason — each loss was to a 6A team — Springville picked up 12 straight wins to end the regular season, then backed it up with five double-digit playoff wins.
“I feel like in the second half of the region we really hit our stride and played good basketball and looked good,” said Springville coach Holli Averett, who has now a 2-1 coaching record in championship games in just three years in Springville.
“I’m so proud of the girls. All the work they put in, out of season, during the season, it wasn’t easy. We are still undersized. We don’t have any big ones, technically. They bought what we wanted and they played hardball.
The biggest buy-in comes from the defensive side, and nobody does it better than the Red Devils.
All season they’ve made it hard for the opposition to get good shots, and he’s done just that for top seed Lehi, keeping the Trailblazers on 44% shooting and forcing 15 turnovers.
Ten of those turnovers came in the first quarter as Springville opened up a 10-point halftime lead.
That lead never dipped below seven in the entire second half.
“We always come back to our defence. We said we need to amp up the D, make sure we have that pressure, off the D ball, on the D ball, everyone has to be focused, and I feel like defense leads to our attack” , Averett said.
Springville didn’t shoot as well as Lehi, but he had nine more field goal attempts as he enjoyed a 12-4 advantage in offensive rebounding and a 15-11 advantage in forced turnovers.
Brooke Pennington, who scored 15 points, said the moment never really seemed too big after playing a tough pre-season schedule that included Fremont, Lone Peak and Westlake – all 6A semi-finalists.
“I think being able to deal with adversity before the tournament is really good. We were down at times. They were starting to run and we were successful,” Pennington, who was named the Deser State Tournament MVP, told News. 5A.
Kayla Porray led Springville with 16 points while Ellie Esplin added 13.
Esplin and Porray were the only returning contributors to last year’s state championship team, but once all the newcomers picked up speed, Springville became too tough for the rest of 5A.
Lehi actually got off to a great start on Saturday, scoring on his first three possessions and quickly taking a 7-2 lead.
Slowly, however, the pressure from Springville began to reach Lehi. He turned the ball over on his last four possessions in the first quarter as Springville closed on a 7-0 run.
A similar 8-0 run sparked by his defense in the second quarter pushed the lead to 30-20 at halftime.
“By staying calm, not panicking, they got in and trapped and it was really important to stay relaxed and play our game,” Pennington said.
In the second half, Lehi was more accurate in possession, but only shot 36% and could never lose the lead as Springville was in no rush to play fast.
In the second half, 18 of Springville’s 24 points came from the free throw line, and he finished the game 20 of 27.
Maci Wall and Tara Smith both finished with 14 points in the loss to Lehi, who was seeking its first state title since 1980.
Springville, meanwhile, has now won seven state titles in school history and six in the past 13 seasons.
His top five scorers were all juniors this year, so Averett’s side could easily come back with a hat-trick next year.
Deseret News 5A Women’s Team of the Tournament
MVP —Booke Pennington, Springville
Ellie Esplin, Springville
Kayla Porray, Springville
Jamisyn Heaton, Lehi
Wall Maci, Lehi
Taylor Harvey, Abundant