Some things worth noting from the 4A/5A girls basketball tournament

I didn’t run the length of the court one time, but I am exhausted this beautiful Sunday morning. The 4A and 5A girls championship games were a fitting end to a wonderful, sometimes surprising season.

First 4A:
THE SURPRISE: Springville…After a less than memorable finish to region play, the Red Devils returned to being the team they were earlier this year. They upset Mtn. Crest and then fifth-ranked East, but ran into a familiar foe in top-ranked Timpview in the semi-finals. Not bad for a program that hasn’t even made a trip to the playoffs in eight years.

THE BEST TEAM BONDING: Snow Canyon’s trip to the Murray Boys and Girls Club. Some teams go to dinner and movies together, these teens read books and talked with youngsters in an after school program the day before their semi-final game against Sky View.

BEST VOLLEYBALL MOVE USED IN A BASKETBALL GAME: Senior Mandy Munns, who will play hoops for the U next season, was running after a loose ball. A guard from Snow Canyon was going to beat her to the ball, so she dove forward and flipped the ball to the waiting arms of a teammate. It isn’t often you’ll see a 6-3 center go to the floor that gracefully.

THE BEST REVENGE: Sky View, of course. Last year the Bobcats lost to Timpview 70-24. There was a lot of talk among fans, media and even some coaches that T-bird coach Kawika Akina should have taken his foot off the gas. (Although, anyone who followed the T-birds up and down season last year, didn’t feel comfortable until the lead was over 40.)
But it was Sky View coach Paul Hansen who defended his opposing coach in interviews afterward saying that this was the playoffs and a loss was a loss, the margin really didn’t matter. Hansen never criticized or complained about taking his lumps and this year, was nothing but gracious as he defeated Timpview in a much closer 4A title game.

NICE SHOWING: After a lot of talk that region 6 wasn’t very strong, West, Murray and East all won their first round playoff games. And Highland nearly upset region 9’s top seed Snow Canyon in the first round.

As for 5A:
THE SURPRISE: Everyone loves and underdog and while it’s difficult to see the Pleasant Grove Vikings as “David” they were the first team I’ve seen in eight years to send a No. 1 seed home in the first round. The Vikings quarterfinal with Jordan was also amazing as 6-7 sophomore Jennifer Hamson, who is more I know more from volleyball that hoops, had to stand on the court alone to make the one freethrow that would send the game to over time. Just 15 years old and she iced it!

THE BEST BEST FIRST ROUND EVER: Five of the eight first-round games were absolutely thrilling. One thing I noticed this year is that more programs are relying on a team approach than in years past. It used to be a superstar or two could get you to the third or fourth day, but this year it was all about the role players. LOVE to see coaches using eight to 10 kids is a nail-biter. Fun for fans; Life-long memories for the athletes.

THE CLASS ACT: I have to compliment all of the coaches for their behavoir and their willingness to discuss their teams – win or lose. We (media) appreciate it, and it helps us do a better job covering the athletes.
I will single out American Fork coach Corey Clayton and Skyline coach Deb Bennett because of their positive interaction with their players and each other. Bad pass? Clayton clapping and offering instructions on what to do next. Get beat on the boards (for the fifth time) call a time out and discuss it like Bennett.
Then after the games, neither coach could say enough about the other team’s players and coaches. They know what that moment meant to their players and they showed them how to both win and lose with incredible grace.

Congrats to all of the teams because the games were well-played, hard-fought and so exciting to watch I’m not sure how the boys will top this next week.

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