Defending gets tough during a basketball game when all five opponents on the floor are threats to score. Stansbury ran into that brand of balance when they traveled to Nephi to face Juab in the first round of the 3A state playoffs Friday night.
The balance of Juab shined brightly in contrast to Stansbury in the first half. For example, only Kendal Levine and Erika Alvey scored for the Stallions in the first half while the Wasps had six girls get on the scoreboard in a first half that ended with Juab holding a 34-15 lead.
Juab followed the leadership of Kobe Farrer with her game-high 19 points and cruised to a 56-32 victory to move on in the state tournament while ending Stansbury’s season at the same time.
“Defensively, Juab really keyed in on Kendal (Levine) and Erika (Alvey),” said Stansbury coach Kenzie Newton. “I think our other players tried to do a little too much.”
Levine scored 14 points for Stansbury in the loss while Alvey also reached double-figures with 11 points. The Levine and Alvey combination combined to score 25 of the 32 Stansbury points as the Stallions next-leading scorer was Karlee Manzione with four points.
The only thing that went right in the beginning for Stansbury was that they took a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes when Alvey made one of two free throws. The rest of the quarter belonged to Juab.
Four different players made baskets to compile a 8-0 run that was capped by a layup by Jessica Barker to give the Wasps a 8-1 lead with 2:57 left in the first. Levine converted on a 3-point play and Alvey later drove to the basket for a layup to get within 12-6 with 22 seconds left. Farrer gave Juab a nine-point lead just before the buzzer with a 3-pointer to give the Wasps a 15-6 lead after one.
Stansbury did a much better job of getting to the foul line early in the second quarter but it took them seven minutes to score from the field. Levine went 4-of-4 from the free throw line to help Stansbury get within 19-11 at the 4:07 mark of the second.
Farrer broke the game open in the waning minutes of the first half as she scored eight points in the final 1:56 of the half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Juab a 34-15 lead. Alvey tried to combat the scoring of Farrer with four points down the stretch and five in the quarter but the Stallions still trailed by 19 at the break.
Stansbury received more balance in the third quarter as Manzione and Rebecca Lords each made a basket in the early going but Juab was matching Stansbury bucket for bucket.
Farrer scored five points during a 7-2 run to end the third that gave Juab a commanding 49-22 lead heading into the fourth.
Trailing by 27 at the beginning of the fourth, Stansbury did come out with energy and outscored Juab 10-7 but it wasn’t enough to pull off a miraculous comeback. Levine did score four of her five fourth-quarter points in the final 4:24 but Juab still held on for the 24-point victory to continue on in the state tournament in St. George.
“I would have liked to see us maintain our defensive effort for four quarters,” Newton said. “I just felt like it was a good overall season and we have made the playoffs every year at Stansbury and we went down fighting in this one.”