Taylorsville • Bingham coach Rand Rasmussen thought this would happen.
Ever since the season ended with his Miners a perfect 21-0, the veteran coach thought his girls might play tight, might struggle early in their tournament run.
The West Jordan Jaguars looked ready to pounce on that opportunity Monday.
The 10-10 Jaguars picked off sloppy passes and converted easy buckets, jumping out to an early lead on Class 5A state tournament favorites Bingham. West Jordan led for most of the first half and hung within one possession for much of the game after that.
But in the end, Bingham would weather the storm.
“We had the kids over Saturday to watch ‘Hoosiers,’” Rasmussen said. “One of the things they said about the tournament is win by 1 or win by 50, go home. We won.”
The Miners eventually cracked West Jordan’s 1-3-1 zone — a look Bingham hadn’t seen much before — and walked away with a 53-45 opening-round win. Bingham next will play a Syracuse team that has won two of the last three state championships.
The Jaguars pressured the Miners into uncharacteristic turnovers in the early goings. A trio of post players seemed to give Bingham fits on the other end.
“I fee like we got punched in the face from the beginning and had to kind of get back on our feet,” said Bingham guard Ashton Henderson, who finished with 10 points.
West Jordan’s Lejila Hadzialijagic finished with eight points. Junior Kalita Taei scored a team-high 14 for the Jaguars. But West Jordan suffered a major loss when center Britney Stallnaker, who scored six of her team’s first 20 points, went down with an injury midway through the second quarter.
Just moments after Stallnaker was helped off the court, Bingham’s Jillian Powell knocked down a 3 to give the Miners their first lead of the game — a lead they would not relinquish.
Powell went on to score nine points in the third quarter to give Bingham a cushion. The senior finished with a game-high 23 points.
Henderson said she expects Bingham to be more relaxed for its quarterfinal date with the Titans.
“The tournament is always a big deal, and it’s what we’ve been working for,” she said. “I think every team’s a little bit nervous. But you come out and play as hard as you can and try to get that out of your system and move on.”