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Huge second half runs sends Springville past Maple Mountain

By Darnell Dickson daily Herald - | Mar 3, 2021
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Springville's Addi Johnson (33) shoots over Maple Mountain's Kinley Nelson (23) during a Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

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Springville starts (from left), Kayla Jackson, Lauryn Deede, Ellie Esplin, Ashleigh Mousser and Addi Johnson watch as Maple Mountain's starters are introduced before their Class 5A girls basketball state quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

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Springville's Lauryn Deede (right) defends Maple Mountain's Skylar Dennison during a Class 5A girls basketball state quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

At first glance, Springville’s 54-43 victory against Maple Mountain in the 5A girls quarterfinals on Wednesday would seem to be a typical 11-point playoff win.

It was anything but.

With three minutes left in the third quarter, the No. 3 seed Red Devils trailed by 11 points.

Springville reeled off a 20-0 run to seize control of the game, outscoring the Golden Eagles 33-9 the rest of the way to move on to the semifinals on Friday. The top defense in the Class 5A, which has allowed less than 30 points per game during the regular season, showed up in a big way just when the Red Devils needed it.

“Honestly, that’s kind of what our mentality is,” Springville coach Holli Averette said. “It’s always defense. We’ve preached it all year and we’ve been working on our defense all year. It took us getting after them about it and them focusing up. We have strong defenders but it takes all five. Your on-ball defense has to be good but your off-ball defense has to be just as good.”

No. 6 seed Maple Mountain – which had lost twice to Springville during the Region 8 season – played brilliantly for two and a half quarters, taking an early 15-4 lead. The visitors led 22-13 at halftime and had control through most of the third period. A basket by Kinley Nelson and another from Sheridan Liggett gave the Golden Eagles a 32-21 lead with 3:20 remaining in the third.

That’s when Springville ignited.

“I told them to just to keep relying on our defense,” Averett said. “It was going to take a great second half of defense, but that’s kind of what we’ve relied on all year, one possession at a time. It starts with our defense and our offense will come. Our offense, we had a rough shooting first half. We were missing some things so we just keep focusing on our defense.”

The Red Devils outscored the visitors 9-0 to close the quarter including Kayla Jackson’s third 3-pointer since halftime. Trailing 32-30, Ellie Esplin splashed a triple to open the fourth for Springville’s first lead of the game at 33-30. The onslaught continued as the Red Devils got their transition game going with steals and defensive stops. A basket inside by Addi Johnson capped the 20-0 run and gave Springville a 41-32 lead. Down the stretch, the Red Devils made 11 of 12 free throws in the final minute to take home the win.

Jackson paced Springville (20-2) with 20 points, 13 in the second half. Johnson had 14 and Esplin added 13.

Skylar Dennison, who scored 11 points in the first half, paced Maple Mountain (14-7) with 14. Liggett and Nelson scored 11 points each for the Golden Eagles.

Springville’s opponent in Friday’s semifinals is a familiar one in No. 2 Lehi. The two teams met in last year’s semifinals, with the Red Devils pulling off an upset of the unbeaten Pioneers. Earlier this season, Springville topped Lehi by seven points in December.

“It’s going to take a complete game,” Averette said. “They have a great team all the way around. They have great shooters and great drivers. They’re just a good group. It’s going to take a full defensive game and on offense we have to come out ready to go.”

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