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High school girls basketball: Mtn. View faced tough test from Highland in the first 4A playoff game of the day

TAYLORSVILLE — Mountain View head coach Alan Groves tried to prepare his team for a playoff game that started at 9:30 a.m. by springing an early morning scrimmage on them the day before. “I didn’t tell them,” Groves said after Mountain View defeated Highland 54-49 in the first round of the 4A playoffs at Salt Lake Community College. “As soon as they walked in, we warmed up, split them into groups and we simulated a half in the morning. And it kind of went like this. We missed some shots, but they came out and played hard, played defense.”

The Bruins had several impressive runs, but the Rams seemed to find ways to whittle away at those leads.

“I thought we were going to break out a couple of times, and they came back, to their credit,” Groves said. “They ran a triangle and two (defense), and while we’d seen it and we’d practiced it, it’s always harder whenever somebody else is running it. That helped them keep it close.”

Highland was led by Lea Havili, who scored 18 points, and Macy Wilson, who added 10 points. Rams head coach Jeremy Chatterton said the team’s effort was a point of pride.

“I thought we battled pretty well,” Chatterton said. “I thought we had a lot of opportunities, but they’re a really good team. … I don’t think we shot the ball as well as we could have, but it’s kind of been our story all season. So this is another good step for our program to get here two years in a row. Hopefully it’s something we can build on in the future.”

When Bruins senior Paulani Tarawa got into foul trouble and had to head to the bench, her teammates were more than capable of continuing their tough play on both offense and defense.

“I was getting frustrated,” said Tarawa, who led the Bruins with 12 points. “But I knew my team had my back, and I knew we could keep it up.” Stephanie Keele also scored 12 points, while Tiffany Peterson added 10 points in the win.

Gentry Oldham never stepped foot on the court, but she still contributed to the win, according to her coach. The four-year starter tore her ACL about six weeks ago and has been sidelined ever since.

Recently she went to an assistant coach and asked what she “could do better,” Groves said. “She hasn’t been playing so he said, ‘You know, pick some people to coach them up during the game.’ So she did that every quarter, she picked somebody new, and it really solidified us.”

Tarawa said Oldham offered her some insight.

“We both play inside post together so she’s always telling me what I need to do, what I need to look for,” Tarawa said.

The Bruins will take on Region 8 champion Salem Hills in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

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