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Springville gnaws its way to second straight 5A girls’ basketball title

Kayla Porray scores 16 points as Red Devils defeat Lehi 54-43.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Springville Red Devils celebrate their 54-43 win over Lehi, in the Girls 5A State Championship game, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

With the 54-43 victory in front of a big and boisterous crowd at BYU’s Marriott Center, No. 6 Springville successfully defended its 2020-21 title and finished the season 22-5 overall.

“It feels really good,” said Mousser, who finished with six points. “It hits me different than last year, I’m not gonna lie.”

Junior guard Ellie Esplin actually found the first morsel in Springville’s five-steal first half and finished with four of her own, as well as 13 points. The junior was fouled after she stole the ball from Lehi sophomore point guard Sammi Love late in the first period and hit both free throws to pull Springville within two. About a minute later, she swished a 3-pointer to give the Red Devils a one-point lead, 11-10. They would never trail again.

“We have a vision,” Springville coach Holli Averett said. “We’re quick, we’re small, so we’ve got to play that way. We don’t have bigs, so we have to use our quickness to our advantage.”

The victory undoubtedly sets Springville up as the team to beat next season, not just because it will be seeking a three-peat, but because it can return four of five starters and 10 of 14 players from its roster. That includes junior Kayla Porray, who led all scorers with 16 points plus five rebounds, and Brooke Pennington, who added 15 points and six rebounds.

“I don’t even know how to express how happy and proud I am of how everybody played,” Averett said shortly before joining her team in cutting down the net. “Happy, that’s the simple answer.”

On its way to the championship, the Red Devils also picked apart Hillcrest (56-35), Timpanogos (57-42), No. 3 Olympus (51-30) and No. 2 Bountiful (41-21).

Lehi, which broke through to the championship game after losing in the semifinals the past three seasons — including the last two to Springville — ends the season 24-5. Along the road to the title game, it pushed past Spanish Fork (60-28) and Woods Cross (47-30), got a revenge win over No. 9 Jordan (60-46) and earned the breakthrough win over No. 4 Highland 49-38 in the semis.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Springville Red Devils guard, Brooke Pennington (2) celebrates at the buzzer, as Springville defeats Lehi 54-43, in the Girls 5A State Championship game, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

The Pioneers will graduate six players, including their top two scorers: Maci Wall and Tara Smith, who tallied 14 points apiece. Jamisyn Heaton, the team’s leading scorer throughout the season who is committed to play for Colorado Mesa University, finished with 10 points. Her three assists tied Love for the game high.

Lehi coach Sean Seastrand said now that Lehi (24-5) has broken through to play in a championship game, he’d like to see a rematch of this one next year. The Pioneers haven’t won a title since 1980.

“We had a hard time getting past the semifinals. Then we take one more step, we made it to the finals,” he said. “And now that gives us an opportunity to look at it and say, ‘OK, now we have to take one more step and has to be able to finish it off.’ And Springville’s tough, they’re basically bringing everybody back. And so we’re going to try to sell it as, ‘Hey, let’s meet these guys back here again.’ We’ll see if we can do it again.”