The Stansbury Stallions girls basketball team remains the lone representative from Region 11 at this weekend’s 3A state basketball tournament in Cedar City.
No. 1 seed Bear River, Tooele and Grantsville all lost in the first round, which left the Stallions to carry the region’s banner. The Stallions, the No. 2 seed, are set to battle Morgan in the quarterfinals. Morgan is the No. 1 seed from Region 10.
A former rival in Region 11, Morgan defeated Stansbury twice last season — 51-42 on Dec. 20, 2012, and 51-31 on Jan. 24, 2013. But Stansbury loves its chances to pull off the upset and advance to the semifinals.
“It starts with [Morgan’s] point guard. She averages 19 points a game,” said SHS coach Kenzie Newton. “The rest of the team is good, but she’s the one that feeds them. So we need to keep her under control.”
Newton said the game against Snow Canyon was the perfect set up for playing against Morgan because those two teams are similar to each other. She said that game last week prepared the team, and practice this week has simply been a refresher course.
Senior Madie Alvey said the team feels like it has the right game plan to come out with the win.
“They’re hopefully going to come out and not take us seriously,” she said. “We need to slow them down, and hopefully we come out with the upset.”
Newton said she isn’t taking anything for granted, however. She said she hopes to find anything and everything to give the Stallions the advantage Thursday night, including playing in the last game of the evening. She said she also hopes Morgan may overlook them and not play at as high a level.
“We’ve made it this far,” Newton said. “Our girls are excited to be here, but they’re not satisfied. Hopefully we have momentum going for us. I’m proud of this team. Congratulations to them on getting to the second round at state, but we’re still hungry.”
Newton cited last year’s state champion Dixie Flyers as an example of what can happen during those three days at the state tournament. The Flyers were the No. 4 seed last year out of Region 9 and ended up winning the whole thing, including beating a team that had pummeled them twice during the regular season, Desert Hills.
Stansbury’s four seniors certainly know how big a deal it is to get this far, but all of them expect to play at a high level and hopefully win the state championship.
“We’ve been doing things ever since losing to Carbon last year (in the first round),” said senior Bailey Wilson. “We don’t want that to happen again. It means the world to us. That’s what we’ve been dreaming about the last four years. I love this team, and I’m grateful to be with them one more week.”
Senior Danielle Dunn said all the hard work the team has put in is starting to pay off.
Alvey said the team has gone through the gauntlet, and now they’re ready for the challenge.
“It means so much to this team as a whole,” Alvey said. “We’ve had a lot of heartbreaking losses over the years.”
Senior Shyan Adams said it’s time to get to work.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “With all the hard work we put in over the last four years, it’s exciting. We feel good going against Morgan. This is our year, so don’t hold back.”
Stansbury and Morgan play in the final game of the evening Thursday at Southern Utah University. The game starts at 9:10 p.m. A win will put Stansbury in the semifinals at 4:10 p.m. Friday against the winner of Hurricane and North Sanpete. The state championship game is Saturday at 5 p.m.