Taylorsville • With the game already in hand, Bountiful senior guard Kennedy Merrick dribbled back and forth in front of the 3-point line.
An assistant coach screamed an instruction to break down her opponent and Merrick obliged. She crossed over her defender, presented a ball fake to another and spun a layup that took a couple seconds to fall through the net.
It was icing on the cake for a Braves team that moved past the first round for the first time in a while as Bountiful defeated Herriman 64-43 in a 4A first round playoff game Tuesday night at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville.
Prior to the win, Bountiful coach Joel Burton wanted to remind his team it was just another game rather than looking at it as a do-or-die situation.
“It was one of our better all-around games,” he said.
Thanks in large part to Merrick, who had a game-high 22 points. Senior Jenny Skedros and junior Tiana Dougher-Walton each had 15 points.
Burton said many of his players are also soccer players, which allows the Braves to pester defensively and play a fast-break style of offense that Herriman couldn’t handle Tuesday.
“We’d be dumb to not go out and run and put that pressure on, knowing the kids we have,” he said. “It’s one of those things we expect.”
Merrick said the approach to the first-round game was the same approach the Bountiful girls’ soccer team took in the fall: the players wanted to make the most of the situation.
“I just want to live our senior year of basketball out,” she said, “and the only way to do that is to push harder.”
Now, the Braves get another shot at Sky View in the 4A quarterfinals Thursday, a team that manhandled Bountiful 64-42 at Bountiful on Dec. 7.
“They thumped us pretty good,” Burton said.
Merrick was the lone player in that game against the Bobcats to eclipse the double-digit mark, something she remembered following the first-round win over the Mustangs.
“When we’re at our best, we have multiple people in double digits,” she said.
Such was the case against Herriman, erasing the recent string of first-round exits for the Braves.