Despite trailing going into the fourth quarter on Friday and stuck in neutral on the offensive end, Maple Mountain girls basketball coach Cory Green kept telling his team to be patient and stick with the game plan.
Things turned around for the Golden Eagles in the fourth quarter thanks to a sticky defense, resulting in a 58-53 victory over a Springville team that came into the game 6-0 in Region 8 play.
“That’s just the way the game goes sometimes,” Green said. “We’re still a younger team. We’re a little bit streaky at times and we can be a little bit inconsistent with our shooting. Just like any team, we preach that cliché that doesn’t have to take a night off or a possession off. Even if our shots are not falling we can go down and defend and that will keep the game close. If we kept within striking distance after the third quarter we knew we had chance to come back in the fourth.”
Maple Mountain trailed Springville 47-42 entering the final frame and by six with 6:01 remaining. That’s when the defense fueled a 7-0 run, with a five points from Sheridan Liggett and a basket by Kenley Nelson, to give the visitors a one-point lead at 50-49.
Springville had been able to exploit the Golden Eagles inside most of the game, with Lauryn Deede (20 points) and Addi Johnson (10) points posting up strong, But Maple Mountain defensive ace Kate Bailey started to make plays, picking up two key steals, deflecting a couple of Red Devil passes and pulling down big rebounds.
“Kate is an extremely intelligent player and defender,” Green said. “She always draws the toughest defensive assignment. Anytime the other team has two posts, she’s always the one we stick on the other post player, even though she’s not a post player at all. She did a nice job and had good weak side helpers. We kind of muddled things up a little bit inside.”
Nursing a 55-51 lead with less than a minute to go, a Bailey steal resulted in a run out and a layup by Skylar Dennison to put the game away.
The Golden Eagles held Springville to just six points in the fourth quarter, all from the foul line.
Liggett led Maple Mountain (6-1 Region 8, 9-4 overall) with 14 points and Dennison added 13.
“We’re really playing our best basketball right now,” Green said. “We’ve got a young team and we don’t have lot of seniors. It’s taken us some time to figure out how to put it all together. We know we’ve got the pieces. It’s just like a puzzle and we’re trying to figure out who fits best where and what our strengths are as a team. I think we’re finally falling into that role. We share the ball well, we celebrate each other’s successes and we don’t care who scores as long as we score. It’s very refreshing to have a high school team like that.”
Maple Mountain began the night No. 7 in Class 5A in RPI but will move up with the win over the Red Devils, who were No. 4.
Springville, which had won seven games in a row, fell to 6-1 in Region 8 and 12-4 overall.