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High school girls basketball: Spanish Fork charges into 4A quarterfinals

TOOELE — The Spanish Fork girls’ basketball team just might be peaking at the right time. On the road in Stansbury in the first round of the 4A state basketball tournament, the Dons saved one of their best performances of the season for the playoffs. In a 72-53 win against the Stallions, Spanish Fork turned in its best offensive performance of the season, scoring its highest point total of 2018 in the first-round win.

“My girls have really been trying to find their groove, and I think tonight they found it, and it wasn’t with our normal players that we find it in, and so this is a team that I’ve been telling since the summer, ‘We’re going to do things to make people watch us,’” Spanish Fork head coach Alyssa Anderson said.

Spanish Fork dominated Friday’s game from start to finish, and the Dons made their presence known early, roaring out of the gates. Spanish Fork outscored Stansbury 22-14 in the first quarter. Anderson said that her team arrived at Stansbury ready to play.

“We had a long bus ride, just with the weather and everything else, they actually had to go run around Walmart for a little bit because we got here too early. They were ready. I was getting messages this morning at 7 o’clock this morning, saying that they couldn’t even sleep, they were so excited,” Anderson said.

The Dons’ enthusiasm was apparent from the get-go. The bench led cheers and roared with delight every time Spanish Fork scored. When the Dons led 35-25 at halftime, Spanish Fork ran into the locker room screaming.

After Eliza Bowman beat the third quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that gave the Dons an 11-point lead heading into the final period, the Spanish Fork seemed secure, but Stansbury gave the Dons their best shot in the fourth quarter. With about four minutes remaining in the game, a Sienna Riggle and-one cut the Spanish Fork lead to six points.

“Stansbury is an incredibly good team, they’re very strong, and in their region they did phenomenally, it’s a tough region. So we knew, you’ve got to be at least 10 points better, so that was our goal, was to at least stay more than 10 points,” Anderson said. “At one point, Stansbury came back for a minute and came within six, and that’s when we stopped them (Spanish Fork players) and said, ‘That goal is 10, you gotta be 10 better,’ and they set that goal for themselves and they made it.”

Those three points would be the last that the Stallions would score in the game. The Dons reeled off 13 straight points to close the game, and nine of those points came from senior point guard Gabby Beckstrom.

“Gabby Beckstrom, my point guard, she has wanted this. This summer, I can’t tell you how many hours she spent in the gym, and it’s paying off at the right time,” Anderson said.

Up next, the third-seeded Spanish Fork will take on No.1-seeded Logan in the quarterfinals. The game will be played at Utah Valley University at 9:10 p.m. on March 1.