Salem Hills girls basketball showcases defensive chemistry to roll past Cedar Valley
It doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.
The Salem Hills girls basketball team surrendered nine of the first 11 points of Friday’s big Region 7 clash with Cedar Valley in Salem. The Skyhawks then gave up 10 of the final 12 points.
That meant that the Aviators outscored Salem Hills 19-4 during those two stretches — but the rest of the game belonged to the Skyhawks.
After falling behind early, Salem Hills completely locked down on defense and outscored Cedar Valley by 28 points to earn the 47-34 victory.
“We played together as a team,” Skyhawk senior forward Madi King said. “We were moving the ball well and our defense was one of our assets. I feel like Coach (Taylor Jones) lit a fire under us after we got down. We knew we could do better and so we were determined.”
Jones credited his players for how they rose to the occasion.
“I’m so proud of them,” Jones said. “We worked on so many things in practice and they executed well. I don’t think we had more than 10 turnovers, which against a team like Cedar Valley is very impressive. We broke the press and defended really well. Defensively it was probably our best game of the year.”
Jones said the defensive effort wasn’t about a standout individual but about all the players putting forth the effort to succeed together.
“It was a collective group performance,” Jones said. “Anyone I brought in off the bench came in and did well too. We talked about communicating and we were switching screens, which helped us a lot too. It didn’t matter who was in front of them. They just played really well.”
King explained that the way the players came together to excel defensively highlights the strength of the team chemistry that Salem Hills has this year.
“We only lost two seniors from last year and we put in the work in the summer,” King said. “The chemistry wasn’t as strong last year as it is this year. We are more connected and trust each other.”
She sees that translate to the games because the team believes that everyone will do their jobs.
“You just trust your teammates,” King said. “You can pass the ball to them because you know that they can do what they need to do and they believe in you too. It’s a confidence booster for everyone.”
Jones explained that the Skyhawk motto this year is “all in” and he has seen his girls take it to heart.
“I think my seniors have kind of led that charge, especially my, team captains,” Jones said. “We’re all in. You’re either all in or you’re in the way. Everybody took a different kind of role, even if they’re not scoring. It’s playing defense and rebounding or being positive and building everyone up. This is a group that likes each other, so that helps.”
With the regular season winding down, he feels like his squad is playing some of its best basketball and that’s right where the Skyhawks want to be.
“There is no team in the state we are really scared of,” Jones said. “We know that we have to be ready to go against any team because there’s a ton of good teams in the state.
“I think that we can make a deep run in the state tournament. We know how difficult that can be. But, but at the same time if we keep doing all the things we’ve been doing and get better every day in practice and each game, I think we’ll have some success in the state tournament.”
King said the key for Salem Hills to peak at the right time and reach its potential is simply doing what they did Friday night against the Aviators.
“We need to stay together and lock in on defense,” King said. “Our defense is what wins us games.”
The Skyhawks (14-7) next plays at Wasatch on Feb. 13 while Cedar Valley (12-10) will look to get back on track when it goes to Spanish Fork on the same evening.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m.
Salem Hills boys basketball holds on to defeat Cedar Valley
A determined effort down the stretch allowed the Aviators get within striking distance of the Skyhawks in the final minutes of the Region 7 contest in Salem on Friday night, but Salem Hills got the key free throws it needed to get the 78-73 win.
Cedar Valley senior Hunter Larson drained a tough 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to get to within three and have hope of rallying in the final seconds.
The Aviators had to foul three times but finally sent senior Aaron Hable to the charity stripe with the game on the line.
Hable, who hadn’t scored in the first 31 minutes of the game, saw his first shot go long. But he stayed composed and made the second to make it a two-possession game.
Cedar Valley had two 3-point attempts on their ensuing possession, but both hit the front of the rim and bounced out. Hable got the rebound and was fouled with under five seconds left and he provided the final margin of victory for the Skyhawks by again going 1-of-2 at the line.
Salem Hills got 21 points from senior Chase DeGraffenried, 20 points from senior Kolby Dyches, 16 points from senior Kason Averett and 12 points from junior Ethan Hopkins.
The Aviators countered with 26 points from Larson, 11 points apiece from junior Brennan Olsen and senior Heath Christensen and 10 points from junior Obed Borruel.
The Skyhawks (8-13) hopes to build on the win when it plays at Wasatch on Feb. 13 while Cedar Valley (11-9) hopes to bounce back at Spanish Fork on the same evening.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.