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Second-half defensive shutdown leads Copper Hills past Syracuse

SYRACUSE — After a string of tight games, Copper Hills girls basketball left little doubt about who was the better team on the court on Tuesday night.

The Grizzlies went on the road and took down Syracuse, 41-27, in a defensively stifling performance. Copper Hills moved to 8-2 on the season with their third consecutive win, while Syracuse dropped to 5-3.

It was an extremely low-scoring game in the first half as Copper Hills turned a 9-8 first quarter deficit into a 17-16 lead at halftime. Once the teams came out of the locker room, the Grizzlies turned up the heat and shut Syracuse down, holding the Titans to just 11 second-half points.

“We didn’t play well our last game,” Copper Hills coach Jake Timpson said. “I told (the players) they really needed to bring the intensity on the defensive end. Syracuse is a great team, and we held them to 27 points. We really focused in defensively, and then the offense just started coming. It was a great team win.”

Sophomore forward Skylie Barker ended the game on a personal 5-0 run and led Copper Hills in scoring with 12 points. Junior guard Ellie Taylor had 10 points.

Taylor was a spark plug for the Grizzlies throughout the game, creating several shots, but one of her biggest moments in the game came on the defensive end drawing hard contact on a charge in the paint. She was slow to get up before returning to the bench, but she returned to the game a few plays later and immediately scored on a layup to give the team a 29-20 lead near the end of the third quarter.

“We’re emphasizing trying to be tougher as a team and taking those charges,” Timpson said. “It shows that you want to be tougher, and that you want to commit. The last few games, I’ve been really proud of the girls for being tough enough to take those charges, then being tough enough to get back into it and keep playing.”

A slow-going first quarter only saw two points out of Syracuse and comprised all the scoring in the first four minutes of action. The Titans got out to a 4-0 lead before back-to-back layups by Copper Hills tied the score. Syracuse went on another 5-0 run, but the Grizzlies closed the gap to 9-8 in the final minute.

A layup by Taylor to begin the second quarter gave Copper Hills its first lead of the game, 10-9, as the two squads went back-and-forth until the half ended.

After halftime, the Grizzlies got going with an 8-2 run to get distance from the home team and forced Syracuse to take a timeout. Near the end of the quarter, Copper Hills led by 9 before a 5-0 run by Syracuse made it a game going into the fourth quarter.

The final eight minutes, Copper Hills stifled everything for the Titans as Syracuse only scored two points in the quarter. The Grizzlies ran away with a 10-0 run over the remainder of the game to seal it.

As teams across the state take a short break for the holidays, Copper Hills will see the court again on Dec. 29 when the Grizzlies host Woods Cross.

Syracuse will be on the road on Dec. 30 to take on Northridge.

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