Every time the Bonneville High School girls’ basketball team walks into the locker room, it is reminded of how last season ended.
There are newspaper clippings hanging with headlines blown up to larger font sizes to remind the Lakers of what it feels like to have a promising season derailed in the playoffs after losing to eventual 4A state champion Timpanogos in last year’s 4A state quarterfinals.
Class 4A state tournament
At Salt Lake Community College
9:30 a.m. » Murray vs. Clearfield
11:10 a.m. » Springville vs. Mountain Crest
12:50 p.m. » Bonneville vs. Maple Mountain
2:30 p.m. » Cyprus vs. Hillcrest
4:10 p.m. » Sky View vs. Salem Hills
5:50 p.m. » Bountiful vs. Herriman
7:30 p.m. » Skyline vs. Orem
9:10 p.m. » Timpview vs. Logan
"It serves as a reminder," Lakers coach Mike Russell said. "That has kind of fueled our fire."
It’s certainly working so far.
The Lakers are one of two 21-0 teams entering Tuesday’s 4A state tournament with sky-high hopes. The Springville Red Devils, who lost against Timpanogos in last year’s state title game, also ran the regular-season gantlet unblemished and are riding a 21-game winning streak.
"I don’t think that’s happened very often," Russell said about having two undefeated teams steamrolling into the playoffs.
It’s certainly rare, and Springville coach Nancy Warner knows what kind of pressure an undefeated regular season brings heading into a do-or-die situation.
"You never suspect a team to go undefeated," she said. "We never focused on it and we’ve never talked about it. I know it’s an accomplishment, but I wouldn’t say it was the goal."
The two top teams in 4A are on a collision course to meet — in the semifinals. Due to rotating draws each year, if the unbeaten titans do clash in the playoffs, it will be in a 4A semifinal Friday, not the state championship game Saturday.
"If you look at any season and say we want to go 21-0 or how many games you have, that’s a pretty tough thing to tackle," Russell said. "We know anybody can beat anybody on any night."
Bonneville, which is led by Fresno State commit Emilie Volk, was able to dominate much of its region. The Lakers also responded when it counted, Russell said, earning key come-from-behind wins over 5A Fremont in December as well as a thrilling comeback to beat region rival Sky View by one Jan. 31.
As for the Red Devils, they may have the most dynamic two-way player in 4A in forward Malia Nawahine. Coupled with point guard Savannah Park and other key role players, the Red Devils have their sights set on a return to the biggest game of the season Saturday afternoon.
"But in our minds, Tuesday morning when the tournament starts, everyone’s record is 0-0," Warner said.
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