Sandy • Perhaps it's not entirely surprising that Alta and American Fork combined for 64 turnovers since it was the season opener. But a miscue by one team usually was reciprocated by the other.
But host Alta converted a pair of turnovers into buckets without coughing the ball back up to the Cavemen in the late going and went on to claim a 52-45 victory Tuesday night.
"I was happy for our girls," first-year Alta coach Sean Yeager said. "AF made a little run there at the end of the third quarter, and I was interested to see how our girls would respond. Basketball's a game of runs, and it was nice to see our girls have the fortitude to hang in there. But we could play them tomorrow and the result would be opposite."
Alta held a 30-22 lead at halftime and went up by 10 when Rachael McDonald hit a shot to start the third.
That's when American Fork went on a 12-0 run that lasted for almost the entire third period to give the Cavemen a short-lived two-point edge.
But the Hawks responded at the end of the stanza when both Mariah Martin and Rachel Jenson swished 3-pointers to give their team a 38-34 advantage entering the final period.
"Most of the girls have the green light," Yeager said. "As coaches, we put our faith in all of them. If they don't make it or make mistakes, hopefully we learn from it and move on."
Alta moved out to a 44-36 lead with five minutes remaining when American Fork began another run. After the deficit was cut in half, Martin connected on a shot, and that was followed by an American Fork turnover and another hoop by Elsa Ferre with three minutes left.
Another similar sequence came a minute later. Following a bucket by American Fork's Lauren Line to make the score 48-43, Madyson Quigley hit a field goal for Alta. A Cavemen turnover ensued, and Alta got another bucket and a nine-point lead when Ferre hit another shot.
Quigley canned two 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 17 points for Alta.
"There's some things we have to work on obviously, but I'm glad we can send the girls into the Thanksgiving break with a win," Yeager said.
American Fork enters the 2013-14 campaign with only one player, Maile Richardson, with significant experience from last season.
"They're freshmen and sophomores mostly," said Corey Clayton, whose team was paced by Taylor Moeaki's 17. "We'll be good. It'll be awhile, but eventually we'll be good."