TAYLORSVILLE — Despite holding Bountiful to just 39 points, Mountain View head coach Andrew Blanchard wasn't satisfied with the Bruins' defensive effort.
"I know that sounds funny because of the score, but I really didn't think we played defense well," he said after the Bruins defeated the Braves 43-39 in the first round of the 4A state tournament Tuesday at Salt Lake Community College. "Hopefully, we got it out of our systems."
Part of the reason for the Bruins' difficulties, he said, was due to the team Mountain View drew in that first game.
"You're playing a team that is 18-3," he said shaking his head. "They lost three games ... That's a good team."
Blanchard said some of the aspects of the game in which the Bruins take the most pride weren't their strengths against the Braves.
"They brought a little more pressure than we were ready for," said Blanchard.
The Bruins jumped out to an 8-0 lead and it looked like they might run away with the game. But just as quickly as the Bruins built a lead, the Braves fought their way back into the game.
Both teams are known for their pressure defense and tough rebounding and for a stretch in that final quarter Bountiful just out-worked the Bruins in the paint.
"That's embarrassing, too," said Blanchard of the rebounding. "The second quarter I called a timeout and asked them, 'Why are we just tapping the ball? Grab the dang ball!' We were treating it like it was a hot potato."
And the Bruins weren't hitting the shots they normally do from the outside. Still, the second-ranked team found their hero in senior forward Mika Pinner.
"She's one of the offensive threats we have," said Blanchard. "One of the many. We have a lot of girls who can score. That's what makes us a good team. On any given night any player can be that threat."
Pinner hit a big bucket with about a minute and a half left in the game that gave Mountain View a 40-38 advantage. Bountiful's Lori Pack hit one of two free throws to bring the Braves within one. Pinner was then fouled on the rebound and made one of two shots to extend the lead back to two. Then Pinner's teammate Ashleigh Warner was fouled and made both attempts to give the Bruins a four-point lead with 14 seconds left in the game.
Blanchard said his team practices high-pressure free throws all season in hopes the players are used to the emotion and nerves that accompany those critical shots.
"Free throws are extremely important, especially in that situation," he said. "It's usually the measure of a championship team and a team that loses."
Pinner said she was a little nervous, but just focused on what she needed to do. Being asked to lead the offensive effort didn't make her nervous.
"We all take that role when we need to," she said noting that the players try to get the ball to whomever is shooting well. "Tonight it was just me."
The Braves didn't earn a win, but they did earn something else.
"I really am proud of this group of kids," said Braves coach Joel Burton. "I think this team earned some respect from people around the state."
Bountiful was led by Tayler Boroson, a junior who scored 16 points and had two big steals late in the game.
Burton said the Braves were a bit nervous in the beginning of the game, but relaxed — which allowed them to clamp down on the Bruins.
"They were a little uptight," he said. "We never did shoot like we can. But defense, that's what helped us today ... This group of kids has a lot of moxie."
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