TAYLORSVILLE — Exactly one month removed from its only loss in 4A classification play — a two-point heartbreaker to Maple Mountain — Springville has done everything in its power to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
Especially not in the playoffs with a state title on the line.
The Red Devils have now won 20 of their 21 4A matchups this season, including 13 of their last 14 and seven straight, after knocking off Timpanogos 65-50 in the first round of the playoffs Monday night at Salt Lake Community College, putting them three wins away from a state championship.
“I went and watched Timpanogos last week and I knew we were going to have our hands full," Springville head coach Camie Oakey said. "A lot of our girls were on the floor two years ago and they really stepped up for us, so all year they’ve had that great composure. And they’ve shown that all year and tonight it was a great finish."
Springville is no stranger to Timpanogos in pivotal playoff games or big-time postseason success.
The Red and White have successfully advanced to five of the last six 4A state championship games, two of which were against the Timberwolves, and taken home the state title in four of those five state-title appearances (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014). They lost one of the five matchups to Timpanogos back in 2012.
“It (a state championship) is expected of our girls in a way because they expect it of themselves," Oakey said. "My expectations are that we play every single game to the best of our ability and take it one step at a time. But it’s a daily process that they’ve been talking about since the beginning of the year."
Springville came flying out of the gate and opened the game on a 6-0 run before taking an 11-point lead into the second quarter. It then extended its cushion to 13 points at the break and took control.
Or so it seemed.
The Timberwolves locked down on defense, forcing the top-seeded Devils into some costly miscues that helped create some open shots for the Timberwolves as they responded with a huge third quarter to cut the deficit to single digits heading into the fourth.
“Our defense really suffered in the second half. Timpanogos is one of those teams that is always going to be scrappy and physical and is always going to play hard," Oakey said. "I think we responded pretty well, but it was a good test for us, no question."
However, Springville has been in positions like this many times in the last six years and knows how to finish.
After Timpanogos cut the deficit to three points with four minutes left, the Red Devils’ invaluable championship experience proved to be the difference as it remained poised and took over in the fourth, ending the game on a momentous 16-4 run to avoid the upset and cruise to the double-digit victory.
Springville's Lydia Austin led the way with 22 points and four treys.
“It was a three-point game in the fourth and I just said, ‘you’re the No. 1 seed. You’re in this position for a reason, and now we have to play like it. We have to be composed and we need to control our effort and execution,’" Oakey said. "It was just a great finish and a great win for us."
The Red Devils move on to the 4A quarterfinals where they will take on No. 2 Judge Memorial Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since October 2012. Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org