In last season’s 5A state tournament, the Bountiful Redhawks took a 14-point lead over Skyline in the second round only to have the Eagles come back and take the win.
A year later, the Redhawks have refused to make that same mistake.
By a final score of 66-31, Bountiful punched its ticket into the semifinals in dominant fashion with a win over Viewmont Monday at the Huntsman Center.
Using a 22-5 run that stretched over the first and second quarter, the Redhawks not only claimed a big lead, but they added onto it, something that last year’s squad couldn’t manage.
“I love this team because they play together and they play for each other,” Bountiful head coach Joel Burton said.
“That’s the big difference between this year’s team and last year’s team. They play so hard for each other, so I’m so excited to see them have the success they’ve had.”
With three playoff wins now in the books, second-seeded Bountiful has beaten its opponents by an average of 25.6 points per game.
Making the semifinal run even more interesting is the fact that the Redhawks have had to beat two region opponents to get to the final four, something that Burton said makes for even tougher games.
In their first matchup against the Vikings this season, the Redhawks escaped with only a two-point win, but on Monday, they put the hammer down on both sides of the floor.
Bountiful limited Viewmont to just 21% shooting from the field, forcing the Vikings into tough, long-distance shots.
The Vikings went 4-for-29 from 3-point range, with all four makes coming from Kristina Gunnell, whose 16 points accounted for more than half of Viewmont’s scoring output.
In Bountiful’s past five games, no team has managed to score over 40 points against a Redhawks defense that was already good but appears to be trending toward great at the perfect time.
“Defense is something we’ve hung our hat on all season,” Burton said. “We knew (coming into the season) that we needed to be great at defense.
“We don’t want the other team to score more than 40, and we’ve been pretty good at that this year.”
Efficient defense gave way to efficient offense for the Redhawks, who recorded 16 assists on 25 made shots.
Bountiful shot 51% from the field — aided by the fact that it was a plus-26 in points in the paint (40-14).
“When we’re playing well, it’s when we’re looking for each other and making the extra pass, and when we’re not, we’re just focused on ourselves,” Bountiful point guard Lizzy McConkie said.
“Our coaches scouted well, so we knew what we were coming into and we just executed.”
McConkie notched a game-high five assists to go along with 10 points and five rebounds.
The Redhawks had four players reach double-figures in scoring and had seven different players record a point.
Freshman Taylor Harvey led the way with a game-high 20 points while also recording eight rebounds and three steals.
With defending 5A champion Springville on deck for the Redhawks in the semifinals, Burton said it wouldn’t be a true playoff run in 5A without a matchup against the Red Devils, while also adding that he wasn’t surprised that they pulled off a dominant upset over third-seeded Olympus.
“They’re going to be hard (to beat),” McConkie said of Springville. “They have so much energy.
“We haven’t played them this year, but I think we’ll be ready.”