By Kurt Johnson
Photo by Shane Marshall
SPRINGVILLE – Great shooters are always lurking, waiting to step up just at the time the team needs a jump start. The Springville High girls basketball team has that kind of player in 5’7″ guard Lydia Austin, and Tuesday night on the home court, the senior did her best work in the second half to lead the Red Devils to a critical 52-39 Region 8 victory over rival Salem Hills.
Austin, who averages 16 points per game, connected on a single 3-pointer in the first quarter and another trey in the second stanza as the two teams played to a 23-23 tie at intermission. It was after the break, coinciding with an enhanced defensive effort from Springville at the defensive end, that Austin unleashed the long ball. She drained four 3-pointers (two in each quarter) in the second half as part of a 15-point second-half effort to fuel the win.
While the Red Devils were balanced offensively during the first half, the Skyhawks leaned heavily, as expected, on 6-foot sophomore Lauren Gustin. The forward scored 10 of her team’s 23 points before intermission, while also grabbing five first-half rebounds.
Struggling to find scoring during that half, Springville used some timely good work on the offensive glass, including a pair of offensive boards from 5-5 guard Olivia Park, to generate second chances that helped it stay in the game. Alex Sorensen, a 6-2 senior center came out strong off the bench, and 5-7 senior starting guard Ali Monson hit some key buckets during that opening half.
The Red Devils fixed a couple of critical things after the break that helped them pull away to an eight-point lead by the end of the third and then took them to the eventual 13-point final margin of victory. First, Springville turned it over way too much in the opening half. Senior Salem Hills guard Jane Nelson nabbed four steals herself during the first 16 minutes.
Secondly, Springville made life much more difficult on Gustin on the offensive end. She dominated the defensive glass during the second half, but after adding five points to her total in the third period, the 17 point-per-game scorer was scoreless in the fourth.
Salem Hills scored just seven points in the third and nine in the fourth, as Austin’s 15 second-half points was just one short of the Skyhawks’ team total for the half. With Monson setting the table with a pair of outstanding passes in the fourth, Austin took her game to that next level and carried the Red Devils home.
Park was outstanding all night long for Springville, filling up the stat sheet with seven points, six boards, four assists and a pair of steals. That was a strong complement to Austin’s 21-point night.
Gustin led the way for Salem Hills with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Nelson scored nine points and grabbed four boards to go with those four steals.
The win strengthens the hold on first place in Region 8 for Springville (5-0 in Region 8, 13-1 overall) as the Red Devils prepare for the next challenge to the league lead when the head to Maple Mountain (4-1, 11-2) at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Salem Hills (4-2, 11-5) is off Friday night before visiting Payson (1-4, 3-10) next Tuesday.