Provo • In the first game of the season, Lavender Briggs drove down the lane and executed a picture-perfect Eurostep to get by her defender for a layup. Her teammate, senior center Sierra “CC” Davis, stood just a few feet away and could only watch, mouth agape with astonishment.
“It was like she was floating in midair,” Davis said. “I’ve never played with someone who can just destroy people like that.”
But moves like that aren’t the only way the 6-foot-1 senior guard on the Provo High girls' basketball team dominates. She leads the state in scoring and 3-pointers made, and is doing so at an ultra-efficient rate. She’s also first in double-doubles and third in rebounding.
Briggs recently signed a national letter of intent to play at the University of Florida and was nominated to play in a 2019 McDonald’s All-America game.
Make no mistake: Briggs is far and away the best player on Provo’s team, and her teammates don’t deny it. They respect the hours she spends in the gym honing her craft. They revere the added intensity she brings to practice. They rely on her scoring and leadership to carry the team to win after win.
“She makes us feel unstoppable,” said Davis, a transfer from Springville.
But with that comes the added pressure of being on all the time. If Briggs just so happens to have an off night — which doesn’t occur often — the entire Bulldogs team suffers. Junior teammate Charlee Barker said “the whole demeanor of the gym kind of shifts,” and at times the team struggles to get back on defense or run its offense efficiently. Davis said the team gets “panicky” in those moments.
So Briggs feels the importance of how she approaches every practice, every game, every possession. She feels the urgency to make every shot. She’s so instrumental that she plays every minute of every game. At times, it weighs on her, she said.
“The energy I bring to the games reflects on everybody,” Briggs said. “I have to keep that in mind at all times.”
Second-year Bulldogs coach Amanda Barker sees it, too. She said Briggs is so talented on the offensive end that when she’s not making shots, it adversely affects other aspects of her game.
“It’s really, really hard when shots aren’t falling because it’s draining,” Amanda Barker said. “She has to play so big on so many different areas of the court that she needs her shots to fall so she can keep that energy up and keep that momentum up.”
Briggs mitigates that, Amanda Barker said, by focusing on getting her teammates open shots and attempting to rack up seven or eight assists per game. She’s averaging 3.9 assists for the season.
Night after night, defenses throw everything they can at Briggs. It’s not very often that she has much room to shoot, much less breathe.
“She always has either two or three players on her just following her around like little puppy dogs,” junior teammate Charlee Barker said. “It’s crazy.”
But Briggs knows she can’t win games by herself, and her teammates do their best to support her. Davis, the other captain on the team other than Briggs, makes a concerted effort to take advantage of her open shots around the rim. That gives Briggs an opportunity to rest for a spell, and also forces the defense to focus its attention elsewhere, even if just for a brief moment, Davis said.
Ultimately, however, Davis relishes in helping Briggs do what she does best.
“It’s funny,” Davis said. “I’d rather pass to her or set a screen for her than me score myself — and I love scoring.”
Briggs has played basketball since as far back she can remember. Growing up 45 minutes outside New York City, she frequently shot around in parks with her mom, dad and brothers. After the family moved to Utah when Briggs was 7, she joined the Utah County Bantam Basketball League, where she “officially” started playing, she said.
Briggs quickly moved up the basketball ranks, frequently playing up two grade levels during the time her mother coached her. That stopped around fifth or sixth grade, when she joined the local AAU circuit.
After spending two years at Mountain View High, she transferred to Provo. During the college recruiting process, Briggs said she received 16 offers, but narrowed them down to four: Florida, North Carolina State, Syracuse University and the University of Washington.
She chose Florida for the opportunity to join a young team with a new coaching staff. She believes she can make a significant impact from the moment she steps on the court as a Gator.
“I wanted to a part of the story that they’re gonna build,” Briggs said. “I want to be part of the reason that they become one of the greatest basketball schools of all time.”
Right now, Briggs is the reason the Bulldogs are 4-1 in their region. She is averaging 30.9 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, and has tallied 14 double-doubles. She’s on pace to break the UHSAA record in points per game, and should end up in the top 10 all-time for most points scored in a game after notching 43 once this season. Two other players in state history have scored 43 in a game, both of whom are in the top 10.
Briggs is also shooting 53 percent from the field and 48 percent from the 3-point line despite constantly seeing double- and triple-teams.
“She’s hitting better than us with one player on us,” Barker said.