In 1976 girls basketball was made an official UHSAA sport and the Davis Darts won the championship in that inaugural year.
Since that 1976 state championship, the Darts have been unable to win a second title. But this year’s squad hopes to fix that.
With a 48-44 victory over Herriman, Davis advances to the state semifinals for the first time in 16 years.
“We are so thrilled because Davis hasn’t been to the state semifinals since 2007,” said Davis head coach Anne Jones.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time, and we weren’t thinking about making the state semifinals at all. We were just taking it a day at a time.”
With the score tied 24-24, Davis knew that taking down Herriman wouldn’t be an easy task. But coming into the second half Jones knew her players had to stick to their defense to win.
“(Jones) told us to D-up and that we needed to play good defense,” said Davis’ T’maea Eteuati. Eteuati was Davis’s leading scorer, recording 13 points and eight rebounds.
“She told us ‘no more cuts and no more threes, get your hands in their face so they can’t shoot’ so that’s just what we did. We focused and locked in. We knew who our players were, we had a lot of communication on the floor, and we talked through the screens.”
In Tuesday’s game the Herriman defense forced 22 Davis turnovers while also grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. With the mistakes, Davis’s defensive effort was the difference between advancing or losing.
The defensive emphasis worked, and the Darts held the Mustangs to only seven third quarter points and 28% from the field. Resulting in a 36-31 lead after the third quarter.
“All season long we have just found ways to win,” said Jones.
“I think that defense has been our thing. We thought this year was going to be a rebuilding year for us after a really fantastic year for us last year and we lost a lot of really talented players.
But these guys, I’m so proud of them. We have a really young team, and they just grind it out day in and day out. They just find ways to win.”
In the fourth quarter, Herriman’s offense was able to be a little more effective. However, it was too little too late for the Mustangs who were unable to generate enough offense to take down the Darts.
This has been a surprising year for Davis. The Darts graduated seven seniors last year after losing to Westlake in last year’s quarterfinal game and had only one senior on their 2023 roster.
Despite its unusually young roster, Davis recorded a 18-2 regular season record and earned a spot in the state semifinals for the first time in 16 years.
“It’s just everyone put in time during the off season and our senior (Aryanna Bull) is extremely important to us,” continued Jones.
“We’ve just had kids step up and fill those roles and it’s just built every single year. I think those previous four or five teams that we’ve had set the tone. Kids coming into the program see how those other years have worked and now were reaping the fruits of that.”