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MURRAY HOLDS SERVE VS. JORDAN

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It was just the second game of the region season, but the Murray High girls basketball team, barring a major upset, earned itself at least a tie for the league title Thursday afternoon by beating Jordan, 51-40.

The well-rounded, fourth-ranked Spartans entered the game 8-2 overall and 1-0 in Region 6, while the No. 3 Beetdiggers were 7-1, 1-0. The other three teams in the region (Tooele, Granite and Judge Memorial) are a combined 3-30 - and one of the three wins was when Granite edged Tooele Wednesday.Assuming Murray and Jordan, the `haves' in the region, will beat the three `have nots' twice apiece as expected, the league race really boiled down to the two head-to-head games between the Spartans and Beetdiggers - Thursday in Murray and Feb. 8 at Jordan.

Behind Brecken Taylor's 16 points the Spartans held serve.

"I was nervous about tonight," Murray coach Becky Anderson said. "Jordan is a good team and they're well-coached, but mentally we were ready to play. I was really pleased with our effort."

Jordan jumped out to a 6-0 lead early, but Murray scored the next 11 points and never trailed again. The Spartans had a six-point lead at the half and went up by as many as 17 early in the fourth quarter before the Beetdiggers made a mild run to pull within nine with four minutes to play.

Murray doesn't have a real star, but instead has seven players who are capable of scoring. "From game to game we don't know who will step up for us," said Anderson.

Thursday it was Taylor, who scored seven straight points in the third quarter as the Spartans opened up a big lead. Teammate Natalie Webb added 12 points for the game.

The Beetdiggers opened the year with seven consecutive wins before losing a non-region game at East Tuesday. "Winning builds winning and losing builds losing," Jordan coach Tim Lewis said. "We need to get back on the winning track as soon as possible."

Lewis admitted he's looking forward to the rematch against Murray. "We won't have the old Jordan High gym for much longer, but we like to play there. We don't lose there very often."

Jordan's Robyn Uribe scored a team-high 13 points in the losing cause, while Brook Epperson had 11.

Elsewhere in the state:

Region 4

Alta 55, Hillcrest 50

At Hillcrest, the Hawks managed to squeak past the pesky Huskies in the region opener for both teams. Alta took advantage of a slow start by Hillcrest and ran out to a 33-21 halftime lead, then hung on for the win. Alli Bills led all scorers with 20 points for the Hawks to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists. Krista Koehler had 15 for the Huskies while teammate Kristin Smith added 14 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.

Mountain View 57, Orem 39

At Orem, the Bruins started region play on the right foot by grabbing a road win over the Tigers. Brandi Daniels and Michelle Riffle combined for 33 points for fourth-ranked Mountain View (10-1, 1-0). Orem fell to 6-5 overall with the loss.

American Fork 81, Brighton 56

At Brighton, the second-ranked Cavemen kept the steam train rolling with a region-opening victory over the Bengals. Julie Krommenhoek scored 32 points, including five three-pointers, to pace American Fork (10-1, 1-0). Wendy Johnson led Brighton (1-6, 0-1) with 14 points.

Region 5

Bear River 67, Box Elder 62

At Bear River, the Bears used a tight man-to-man defense in middle quarters to sting the Bees. Trailing by eight points to start the second quarter, Bear River (4-6, 1-2) outscored Box Elder 41-19 to take a comfortable lead into the final period. Lisa Richards tossed in 19 points for the Bears while Lisa Hashimoto also scored 19 for the Bees.

Logan 28, Ben Lomond 23

At Logan, the Grizzlies slugged out a hard-fought victory over the Scots. Both teams displayed terrific defenses throughout the game which saw Logan (6-6, 2-2) overcome an 8-2 deficit after the first quarter. Holly Hansen led the Grizzlies with eight points while Stacey Shipman also chipped in eight for Ben Lomond (5-7, 1-3).

Sky View 40, Ogden 32

At Ogden, the Bobcats used their height advantage to claw past the Tigers. Second-ranked Sky View improved to 3-0 in the region behind Mari Burningham's 12 points. Kelly Vause scored 10 points for Odgen, which fell to 3-1 with the loss.

Region 8

Timpview 83, Payson 28

At Timpview, the top-ranked Thunderbirds actually had to come from behind to defeat the Lions. Timpview (12-0, 2-0) trailed 11-5 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored Payson (7-5, 1-1) 78-17 the rest of the way as they shutdown the Lions vaunted inside attack. Kelly Sherwin led the Thunderbirds with 16 points and 18 rebounds.

Provo 57, Pleasant Grove 49

At Pleasant Grove, the Bulldogs took advantage of early miscues to sing the Vikings. Provo (10-2, 1-1) jumped out to a 27-14 first quarter lead thanks in part to double-digit turnovers for Pleasant Grove (2-9, 0-2). Lori Redd's 16 points led the way for the Bulldogs while Tirzah Church led all scorers with 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Vikings in the losing effort.

Springville 56, Spanish Fork 32

At Springville, the Red Devils improved to 10-1 on the year and 2-0 in league play behind 15 points by Emilyn Hullinger.

Region 9

Pine View 53, Cedar City 51

At Pine View, the top-ranked Panthers (12-3, 1-0) opened league play with a narrow win over the fifth-ranked Redmen. Mandy Shaheen scored 24 points to lead the way for Pine View.

Region 13

North Sevier 56, South Sevier 54 OT

At North Sevier, the Wolves blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead but managed to defeat the Rams in overtime. Forward Beckie Hailes scored 23 points for North Sevier. Sharei Neilson's three-point basket for South Sevier sent the game into overtime.

Region 14

Wendover 49, Salt Lake Christian 31

At Wendover, the Wildcats came alive in the second half to cage the Dragonslayers. Tiffani Fox's 15 points led the way for Wendover (7-5, 4-1), which came back from a 15-11 halftime deficit. SLCA dropped to 2-9 overall.

Intermountain Christian 80, Mt. Vernon 12

At Mt. Vernon, the Lions made their roar heard with a sound victory over the Patriots. Shaylea Yeakley tossed in 21 points to lead ICS. Holly Timm scored five points for a Mt. Vernon team in just its second year of existence.