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High school girls basketball: All eyes on Springville in 4A tourney

Springville's Lexi Eaton shas the Red Devils on a roll as the 4A girls state basketball tournament tips off the week at SLCC.
Springville's Lexi Eaton shas the Red Devils on a roll as the 4A girls state basketball tournament tips off the week at SLCC.
Jason Olson, Deseret News

In 4A girls basketball this year all the discussion seems to centers around the Springville Red Devils. Nobody can seem to stop talking about them and for good reason.

Last year's runner up has rampaged through its season hot on the heels of knocking off some solid competition in both the 4A and 5A ranks with nice victories over teams like Sky View, American Fork and Riverton.

But as much as many in the 4A family believe the trip to the finals is going to be a cakewalk for the Red Devils, Springville coach Nancy Warner knows that no matter how good her team is, the playoffs, which begin this week at SLCC, are never a simple matter.

"You never know what could happen. I'm excited about the next part of our season, but we still have to take things one game at a time," said Warner, noting that she is pleased that her team has plenty of state tournament experience to fall back on.

"We know what it's like in the state tournament, and we have big time motivation from last year," she added.

That motivation comes from the fact that the Mountain View Bruins defeated a hot Springville squad for the championship last season, and for good or bad, the Red Devils are potentially slated to play those same Bruins in the quarterfinals this season.

The Red Devils will be counting heavily on superstar and BYU-signee junior Lexi Eaton to lead them into the fray with her 24.11 points per game average. But Springville is made of a real team of competitors including Sadie Clements, Jessica Jensen, Jen Mason and Mackenzie Nielson, among others that make up a "strong and unified team."

The Red Devils won't be alone in fighting for a title. There are other strong teams out there ready to knock them off if they're not at their best.

One of those teams is the current 4A No. 2 Woods Cross, which is led by junior Xojian Harry with 16.3 points per game.

"She's quite the athlete. She's very strong in the transition game, and she rebounds and controls the paint very well. She's a versatile player that brings headaches to the other team," said Woods Cross coach Craig Geis of his star.

But he notes that the big difficulty his squad is going to face is its youth and lack of playoff experience, not to mention that his team hasn't had to fight through much of a challenge during its region season.

Natalie Parsons and Emily Howey are both important sophomores on the squad, and Aarika Andersen adds a nice presence and some points as well.

Woods Cross could have a very interesting matchup in the quarterfinals as they would most likely run into the 4A No. 4 team in Mountain Crest.

The Mustangs play an opposite style to the Wildcats in that they try to slow the game down and focus on the half court, while Woods Cross is all about getting into a running game. The matchup should be highly entertaining if both teams make it past their second round games. If the Mustangs can get the Wildcats into a half court contest, they should have the advantage, but if Woods Cross can make them run, it could go in the Wildcats' favor.

Mountain Crest is led by a balanced attack from Brynn Foster, Brianna Jessop, Jordi Willden and Shelby Rudd.

Their Region 5 conference foe Sky View should also once again be in the mix with Amy Andrus leading the way, followed by Nicole Hansen and Aubry Boehme.

Timpanogos will also provide a challenge with Morgan Bailey heading things up from the middle and an ability to go to the outside. The T-Wolves also have a host of guards that take turns making noise in one game after another.

Timpanogos is coming off their first Region 7 loss to Mountain View.