Girls basketball: Mountain Ridge loses its first game of the season

A strong defensive performance from the reigning 5A champion Springville shined in the 58-43 Red Devil victory and handed Mountain Ridge its first loss of the season.

From the start The Sentinels had issues moving the ball against the switching Red Devil defense.

The lack of ball movement caused Mountain Ridge to fall into isolation plays which Springville quickly capitalized on with a 14-6 lead after the first quarter.

“We are always defensive minded. At practice we focus on our defense. It’s really our main focus most practices and all season we have a goal in mind of the type of team we want to be, and it starts with our defense.

“We have an aggressive defense, we’re switching things, everyone’s on the same page and it’s not always great but each game we’re looking for that progress,” said Springville coach Holli Averett.

The second quarter was a similar tale for Mountain Ridge. The Sentinels did earn a few trips to the stripe, but the unrelenting Springville defense continued, and the Red Devils extended their lead to 29-17 at the half.

Springville’s proficient defense contributed to its offense. Springville senior Ellie Esplin led the Red Devil offense with 26 points with four 3-pointers.

Going into the third quarter Mountain Ridge started to move the ball better, found some mismatches on the switches, and fought its way back to a 29-24 deficit.

However, Springville made sure that’s as close as the Sentinels would get. To start the fourth quarter Red Devil guard Kayla Porray had her own five point run to get her team back up 46-32.

“We were trying to go into this game with intensity, to dig deep and show what our defense should look like and what our games should be.

“Our past three practices we worked a lot on defense because we didn’t want to relax the whole game and we wanted to show our ‘Red Devil defense,’” said Porray.  

“I think our biggest thing is we must play full quarters, there can’t be any pauses or letdowns. Obviously, there’s going to be slip-ups but that’s when you go and answer back. They might get a turnover, but we have to get back and play defense.

“We’re working hard, we know we have a target on our backs, but we’re going to keep playing Red-Devil ball and I trust my team to keep doing what we do.”

Springville went back to what worked in the first half. It used quick defensive switches on the defensive end and ball movement on the other end to regain the large lead. Many of Springville’s baskets were assisted.

“We’ve also been working on … our passing,” said Averett.

“This offseason we noticed that it wasn’t our strongest and it’s something you might forget about, so we spend a lot of time passing.

“Our girls are very unselfish, and we’ve been working on driving and kicking it out and making that extra pass when needed.

“Obviously, there’s room for improvement in that area but I think we are taking the right steps forward.”

Springville is on the hunt for its third back to back to back championship and the Red Devils have started strong with an overall record of 5-1.

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