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High school girls basketball: Springville pulls big semifinal upset over 5A tournament favorite Lehi 48-44

A true team effort mixed with remarkable grit did it for the Red Devils in pulling the big upset and advance to the 5A championship game

Springville players celebrate their win over Lehi during a 5A girls semifinal game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Springville won 48-44.
Springville players celebrate their win over Lehi during a 5A girls semifinal game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Springville won 48-44.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Few believed in Springville prior to its matchup versus 5A favorite Lehi, but no one is doubting now.

The Red Devils pulled the upset of the tournament Thursday at the Huntsman Center, beating the overwhelming favorite Pioneers 48-44 to advance to the state championship game on Saturday.

A true team effort mixed with a remarkable yet consistent ability to withstand whatever was thrown its way did it yet again for Springville in what has proven one of the more impressive tournament runs in the state.

“It’s crazy, and I’m still in shock, honestly,” said Springville guard Kayla Jackson, who led her team in scoring with 11 points. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, but we’re not done. We have one more game.”

Springville point guard Ahna Hullinger had a tough time holding back an enormous grin and several giggles during postgame interviews, simply stating, “It feels really good. It’s really fun.”

Hullinger’s emotions were mostly due to what her team pulled off, although at least some of it had to do in showing up Lehi’s crowd.

An early airball from the senior guard led to consistent and derisive chants from the Lehi student section every time she touched the ball. She admitted that she heard the jeers, but she managed to stick it right back at them, hitting a couple of 3-pointers in the second half and some enormous free throws in the game’s final seconds.

“I try and block out those kind of comments and just look at the bench at those who are supporting,” Hullinger said. “It helps when you hit 3s to kind of show it to (the opposing fans). It feels good.”

Hullinger finished with four assists and nine points, with her final two points sealing up the game for good. Set up at the foul line with just 2.9 seconds remaining, and Springville leading 46-44, the senior guard seemed calm in sinking both shots, although it belied what she was truly feeling.

“It was stressful, but it felt good,” Hullinger said.

The game was tight throughout, with Springville taking a thin 8-7 lead after one quarter and Lehi a 20-19 lead at the half. Things didn’t separate much at all throughout the third quarter, with the Pioneers entering the fourth up just 30-28.

The notion many held was Lehi would finally get over in the fourth quarter — everyone but Springville, turns out.

As the Red Devils have shown all tournament, they’re a very tough out, and they met every blow Lehi landed with one of their own, cheered on by a good contingent of fans making the long trip up to the Huntsman Center.

“No one believes, but we do,” said Springville coach Holli Averett. “... We never give up and we always talk about how we’re strong through adversity. If Lehi gets a lead, we don’t stay down. We always think we can come back.”

It also helps not having to rely on just one player. Sure, Jackson led the team with 11 points, but she was followed up closely by Hullinger’s nine and by Addisyn Johnson, who also chipped in nine. Brooke Pennington hit some big shots down the stretch and finished with eight, and Lauryn Deede added seven.

“No one is selfish. No one has egos,” Averett said. “They’re in it for the team. They really are, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get the win.”

Leading the way for Lehi was the Warren twins, with Maddison Warren scoring a game-high 18 points and Macie Warren adding 13.