LAYTON — No one is more surprised by the Layton girls basketball team's success than its coach.
"I've known these kids for about three years," said Van Price after his team won a tough region contest against Clearfield 58-45 Friday night. "I knew they were a special group. But I didn't think the young players would be able to contribute so much and help us out this early. I hoped to be in the top three, but it is a surprise to be on top right now."
The No. 4 Lancers stayed perfect in region play with the win against a talented, physical Falcon squad. The two teams have battled each other for the last few years, and it's usually been for the region title.
"It seems we always have to go through each other to get to the region championship," Price said. "It's usually a battle, but this time we came out on the nice end of it tonight."
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The Lancers were led by center Brooke Nelson who finished with 21 points, despite sitting part of the third quarter because of foul trouble and fouling out with two minutes left in the game. She's one of just three seniors, and says this team's success shocks even her.
"I didn't know we'd be this good," she said. "I think they key to the season is that we work together, that we don't rely on one or two people."
Nelson believes some of the chemistry was created when the team rallied around freshman Ashley McFarland early in the season. The talented guard lost her father in a flying accident at Hill Air Force Base this fall.
"That brought us together a lot," she said. "We need to encircle her as a team, and it helped all of us."
In addition to solid post play by Nelson, Layton's bench came up huge as the Lancers' foul trouble forced them to go deep into their bench.
"Jessica Carver and Annie Richins were huge for us tonight," Price said of the two guards. "And Amelia Whatcott, it was her first time in a varsity game, and she did really well."
Clearfield was led offensively by their freshman point guard Haley Hall, who made some incredible shots down the stretch. Her driving layups drew the final fouls for Nelson. She finished with 17 points.
"We were not boxing out the way we should," said Clearfield coach Rich Swanson. "I didn't have one sub that had a good game off the bench tonight."
The Falcons have more than enough talent but have struggled to play consistently this season.
"I've got inconsistent leadership," he said, "And I've got a ninth grader having to lead."
Clearfield suffered it's second region loss against Layton making their record 2-2, but Swanson still expects to be in the mix come state tournament time.
"I think Clearfield is still a team to beat," he said. "It'd be nice to play someone who wasn't waiting for us."
In other girls games Friday night:
FREMONT 49, DAVIS 24: Krislyn Wallace led Fremont with 15.
VIEWMONT 52, WEBER 48 (OT): Viewmont edged out Weber in overtime to move to 3-2 in Region 1 play. Tara Evans scored 13 points for Vikings.
BRIGHTON 61, COPPER HILLS 40: The Bengals remained unblemished it Region 2 play at 5-0. Vanessa Hutson's 24 points was a game high for Brighton. Marissa Vandersteen grabbed 14 rebounds and scored four points for Brighton.
RIVERTON 42, WEST JORDAN 33: Jennie Bippes, Jenny Finlay, Erin Thaxton had nine points each for the Silverwolves in their win Friday.
ALTA 60, HILLCREST 13: Tati Banks led the Hawks with 11 points in a win where 11 players scored.
HIGHLAND 54, CYPRUS 34: Jill Thomas scored 20 in the win for the Rams.
WEST 61, OLYMPUS 51: The Panthers never trailed to earn their third Region 5 victory. Becky Sorenson scored 21 points and two other Panthers scored 13 apiece. Tiffany Hoskins recorded a double-double for West with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
MURRAY 49, BOUNTIFUL 30: Elena Cary grabbed seven rebounds and scored eight points to aide the Spartans in their Region 5 win over the Braves.
TIMPVIEW 88, SPRINGVILLE 48: The Thunderbirds were paced by Sara Red's 25 points, including four three-pointers. Timpview is now 3-0 in Region 6.
PROVO 63, SPANISH FORK 46: Michelle Boone netted 12 points while three teammates scored 11 apiece as the Bulldogs' balanced scoring attack was too much for the Dons.
PAYSON 68, AMERICAN FORK 44: Karlee Partridge scored 14 and freshman Aubrey Orton grabbed 10 rebounds for Payson.
UINTAH 49, GRANITE 44: The Utes were steady enough to win their first Region 10 game. Maggie Bartel scored 22 points, including four three-pointers. The Farmers were led in defeat by Tracey Tyner's 18 points.
UNION 55, PARK CITY 52: Park City led at the half, but couldn't hold on in the second half. Chelsey Glines led Union with 17.
BEAR RIVER 53, TOOELE 36: The Bears cruised to the easy win over Tooele.
RICHFIELD 64, SAN JUAN 36: Brittani Willardson led Richfield with 18 points and Tia Bastian added 15 more in the win over San Juan.
PAROWAN 32, MONTICELLO 27: The two Cooke's combined for 20 in the win over Monticello.
SOUTH SUMMIT 60, GRAND 33: South Summit improved to 2-0 in league play and 7-4 overall with the win over Grand.
WHITEHORSE 57, ROCK POINT, ARIZ. 24: Without Duchena Martin in the line up, Deidra Tso led Whitehorse with 13 points.