PROVO — The Provo girls basketball team may have taken some years off the life of coach Amanda Barker, but managed a 66-63 comeback win over Region 8 leader Skyridge in the process Tuesday.
After the game, a happy yet slightly exhausted Barker informed her team that, "if they want me to live a little longer, then I'd just love it if we came out to fight from the very beginning."
Indeed the beginning wasn't what the Bulldogs had in mind going into Tuesday's matchup. A bevy of open looks, while yielding more than several 3-point buckets to the Falcons, saw Skyridge build an 18-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 35-18 lead going into the half.
The third quarter didn't get much better, initially, as the Falcons extended the lead to 41-21 when Provo, and most notably Lavender Briggs, suddenly woke up. The shots suddenly started falling, with the Bulldogs forging a 13-0 run to cut Skyridge's lead to 48-43 entering the fourth.
As for Briggs, she did her best work in the third quarter, scoring the majority of her game-high 29 points during the period. Turns out, Briggs was close to not even playing on Tuesday.
“She’s had a hurt ankle and we didn’t know if she would be able to play tonight,” Barker said. “She ended up suiting up and saying, ‘Whatever, I’m going to play,’ and she came out ready to fight and ready to battle.”
The Falcons bore down on Briggs in the fourth, leading to open shots for her teammates, and just about all of them responded positively. The Bulldogs finally took the lead at 58-57 with 1:52 left off a lay-in by Kaili Sudweeks, and then staved off furious comeback attempts to come away with the significant comeback win.
While some on Provo's side may have experienced a gamut of emotions during the thrilling comeback, the players did not, according to Barker.
“These kids — I don’t think they really shift one way or the other,” Barker said. “There’s not a ton of emotion in their faces, they’re just a very even-keel group of kids that play with the same energy.”
As for anything Barker may have changed scheme-wise to fuel the comeback, the head coach said little changes were made here and there, but the comeback was more of a product of shots just starting to fall at the right time.
“Basketball is a game of runs. One team is going to get a run, and if you stick with it, you’re going to get a run,” Barker said. “And we just got it at the right timing — right there toward the end.”
With the win, Provo improves to 5-2 in Region 8 play and within one game of Skyridge, which leads the region with a 6-1 record. With the state playoffs close at hand, Barker knows just how big Tuesday's win can prove for the postseason.
“It was huge,” Barker said. “The girls really don’t get how important seeding is, but … seeding is a very big deal. Ideally we’d want to go in as a No. 1 seed … and every game is important because the future of it is more important than the girls realize.”