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High school girls basketball: Strong second half propels Springville past rival Maple Mountain in 5A quarterfinals

Box Score

Springville girls’ basketball was the last team to punch its ticket into the 5A state semifinals after defeating Maple Mountain 54-43 at home Wednesday night. It marked the Red Devils’ 17th straight win and the third time this season that they beat their Region 8 rival.

After struggling to score in the first half, Springville relied heavily on its defense to claw its way back. The Red Devils’ measly 13 total points loomed large as they headed to the locker room.

During halftime, Springville head coach Holli Averett challenged her team to rely on their defense. “It was going to take a great second half of defense” said Averett after winning her 20th game of the season for the second year in a row. “That is what we have relied on all year, our defense. Offensively we had a rough shooting first half. We just keep focusing on our defense and we feel our offense will come along.”

Come along it did. The Red Devils scored 17 points in the third quarter followed by 24 in the fourth. Senior guard Kayla Jackson opened the floodgates for Springville, scoring 13 points after intermission with nine coming from the three-point line. Averett was impressed with Jackson’s shooting. “We have good three-point shooters” she said. “I think it was huge that she stepped up and hit (those).”

Springville never panicked through their polar opposite halves. The Red Devils looked like a completely different team after their poor first half performance. Their quick turnaround was led by Jackson, Ellie Esplin, and Addisyn Johnson who combined for 47 points in the winning effort.

Springville torched the Golden Eagles on the offensive side of the ball all while holding the visitors to 21 points after the half and forcing a plethora of turnovers. Averett could not say enough about her team’s defensive effort in the second half. “We have some very good strong defenders” she said. “On-ball D has to be good but your off-ball D has to be just as good, so it takes all five. It’s a team effort.”

The Red Devil’s strong effort extended their season and pits them against a familiar foe in Lehi when they return to the 5A semifinals, Springville’s second appearance in as many seasons. The Red Devil’s 17-game winning streak began with the Pioneers and will include them once again if they are to reach their ultimate prize. After coming up short in the championship game last season, Averett has her team focused on rectifying their loss.

“We are happy, but we are not satisfied,” she said.

The semifinals will take place at Salt Lake Community College Friday. No. 1 seed Farmington will play No. 4 seed Olympus at 2:00 p.m. That game will be followed by Springville battling Lehi, the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds respectively. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.