Taylorsville • Copper Hills was relentless and hungry, hassling Pleasant Grove like the teams’ roles had been flipped and regular-season records swapped.
The Grizzlies, behind forcing a staggering 26 turnovers, brushed off any sense of entitlement or complacency and outhustled Pleasant Grove for a 66-25 rout in the first round of the Class 6A girls’ basketball tournament Tuesday night.
Copper Hills forced 15 turnovers in the first half alone after coach Ben Morley reminded his team of its gritty nine-point win over Pleasant Grove in early January that caught the Grizzlies’ attention coming into this matchup.
“We knew that this was going to be a battle, and we challenged the girls to start it with urgency as if they were the underdog,” Morley said.
Copper Hills jumped all over the Vikings (6-15) with an 8-0 run to start and a 21-9 first quarter, punctuated by a circus bank 3-pointer by leading scorer Breaunna Gillen, who finished with 20 points.
Gillen’s smile after the shot went in was as wide as the winning margin.
“We knew we had to come out strong and we wanted to set a tone for this game and the rest of our games,” Gillen said. “We want to come out like that every game.”
Along with Gillens’ 20, Amberly Lazenby shot 4 of 7 from 3 in the first half points for 12 points, but the hidden star may have been point guard Eleyana Tafisi.
Tafisi has perfected the art of pestering at the point, prodding and needling opposing guards into mistakes — a skill Morley said is a boon to the rest of the team’s turnover margin.
“I get the feeling that when she gets home at night, there’s competition over everything like over the dinner table,” Morley said. “Ever since she entered our program last year, she’s been that way.”
Copper Hills finished strong after halftime, outscoring Pleasant Grove 26-8 in the third and fourth quarters.
Copper Hills seems to have found a winning tournament formula with Gillen’s scoring and her team’s defensive pressure. But Morley won’t count on anything prematurely entering the state quarterfinals against Layton.
“Hopefully it gives us a little bit of confidence and we saw what we’re capable of, but the score starts 0-0 on Thursday,” the coach said.
COPPER HILLS 66, PLEASANT GROVE 25
• Copper Hills forces 15 turnovers in the first half and 26 overall in the victory.
• Breaunna Gillen hits a bank 3 in the first quarter to punctuate a 20-point effort as the game’s leading scorer.
• Copper Hills outscores Pleasant Grove 26-8 in the second half to seal the victory.