A quarter of the way into the girls basketball region season, the Stansbury Lady Stallions have started to separate themselves toward a home playoff game in the first round of the state tournament.
The Lady Stallions put together a stout defensive performance against the Tooele Lady Buffaloes en route to a 53-29 road victory. Madie Alvey and Rachel Prescott combined to swipe 16 steals from the Lady Buffs; Alvey had 10 and Prescott had six. Eight of Alvey’s steals came in the first half.
“With our smaller lineup we try to go man-to-man really hard,” said SHS head coach Kenzie Newton. “Deny defense and a lot of pressure on the ball. And then we went a little bit bigger and did zone type press, and that was effective as well. I think just keeping that pressure on the ball and using our speed to our advantage really helped us [Thursday].”
On the other side, the Lady Buffs fell behind 14-5 at the end of the first quarter and weren’t able to cut back into the lead. THS head coach Kris Ashby said the turnovers got the Lady Buffs out of rhythm, and Stansbury’s high energy made it too hard to chip away.
“We let them take the ball away from us too much, especially in the first half,” Ashby said. “They came out with better energy than we did. We just didn’t keep our heads and wits about us, and they did.”
Ashby said Stansbury’s defensive pressure caught Tooele off guard, and the players panicked.
“I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we simulate that kind of pressure in practice,” Ashby said. “We’ve got to execute things better.”
Prescott not only got things done on the defensive side for the Lady Stallions, but she also poured in the rock to rack up the points. Prescott finished the game as the leading scorer for both teams with 21 points. Alvey finished with 10 points to complete her double-double for the evening. Bailey Wilson scored nine points, Kallie Stewart six, Shyan Adams four and Erika Lakin three.
The 24-point win for Stansbury had a little extra meaning than simply beating a rival and moving to 2-0 in Region 11.
“The last two years we’ve come here (to Tooele High School) we’ve gotten beaten,” Newton said. “So I think they kind of had a little bit of a chip on their shoulders. They just brought intensity. They’ve all been really looking forward to this game and trying to get that win. We knew that this was an important one to get, and then Tuesday’s another big one for us. So we wanted to keep that momentum going.”
The Tuesday game that Newton mentioned is against Bear River, which enters that game at 1-0 in the region with a win against Tooele. The Lady Bears are 9-6 overall on the season. Stansbury and Bear River played in two close contests last season with Bear River winning both games.
The first win was a 62-56 overtime victory at SHS on Dec. 13, 2012, and then Bear River won again Jan. 18, 2013 at home 52-48. Those two losses for the Lady Stallions are what put them in the No. 3 seed going into the postseason and Bear River into the No. 2 seed.
“We had some tough preseason games,” Newton said. “That’s been our focus is no matter what we just need to keep our tempo and playing the way we know we can play. Region obviously there’s some excitement. We’ve been waiting for what seems like it’s taken forever to get here, but I feel like they feel like preseason really prepared them for these games.”
Tooele had its own stars step up against Stansbury, but it was too little too late once. Courtney Schiwal led the way for the Lady Buffs with 10 points, followed by Amber Haskell with eight and Taylor Thomas with six.
The Lady Buffs still have time to turn their season around at 0-2 in the region, but Ashby said he knows it will take some work and that there are no guaranteed wins on any part of the schedule.
“We’ll see what [this] week brings,” Ashby said. “We get an emotional game coming up against Grantsville, and Coach (Megan) Vera has them playing well and believing in themselves again. They’ll play a lot like Stansbury will. She’s a protege of Coach Newton, played for her at Grantsville. She has a lot of the same philosophies. I’ve been impressed with what she’s been able to do with them.”
The rivalry matchup between Grantsville (1-0 in Region 11) and Tooele takes place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at THS.
The play-by-play action for Stansbury and Tooele featured a game that looked like it could have been evenly-matched early on. Prescott opened with a 3-pointer to give SHS the lead, but Tooele responded with a 3-pointer by Schiwal on an assist from Thomas.
Alvey grabbed one of her first half steals with the game tied, and she took it back on a fastbreak to give Stansbury a 5-3 lead. Tooele then responded with a floater by Thomas.
However, Stansbury finished the quarter on a 9-0 run sparked by the forced turnovers from Alvey and Prescott. Stansbury pushed the lead to 28-14 by halftime, and then it came out in the third quarter with two straight baskets to essentially put the game out of reach.