TAYLORSVILLE — Cheyanne Brown may have been a little surprised when her coach told her who she’d be defending, but her teammates were not.
“Chey, with how she plays defense, when she guards me in practice, it’s the hardest person on our team to score against,” said senior guard Lydia Austin after Springville beat Judge 57-46 in the 4A quarterfinals Wednesday at Salt Lake Community College. “Chey is so fun to play with. She just stepped up so big for us, and shut (Judge center Vanessa Austin) down.”
Brown was so undersized against Austin, who is an athletic and strong 6-foot-2 center, it seemed like an obvious Bulldog advantage. But Springville head coach Camie Oakey said she knew she’d bring Brown off the bench to try and contain Austin.
“Cheyanne Brown had, I think, the best defensive game she’s had her whole career,” Oakey said. “It’s because she has speed. She’s obviously outsized in every way. She’s an extremely smart player and someone who has speed, so she’s able to defend her, get her frustrated, and then we were able to go at her on the offensive end. It made a big difference.” Brown admitted surprise at her coach’s strategy but said she’d do whatever she’s asked for her teammates.
“I was a little surprised,” she said. “She’s a very athletic, big girl, and I just knew I had to play tough defense for my team.”
The game was close the entire 40 minutes, with lead changes, ties and a well-played game by both teams. Despite the defensive attention Austin attracted, she still led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points, and it turned out to be an insurmountable blow to her team when she fouled out just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Oakey said she asked her guards to do more to control the game at halftime when Judge led Springville 24-22.
“At halftime we talked about, ‘Guards, it’s on you. You have a lot of turnovers in the backcourt; you have a lot of turnovers in transition,'” Oakey said. “But Lydia (Austin) and Olivia (Park) and Ali (Monson), they didn’t come out of the game for a reason. They have that experience. They’re very, very confident in what they’re capable of, and we performed that way in the second half. They were phenomenal. We ran set after set after set, which kept Judge on their toes.” Judge’s Mayree Ellis and Miyalla Tarver each scored nine points in the loss. Springville was led by Austin, who finished with a game-high 20 points, and Monson, who added 10 points. Sumsion grabbed 13 rebounds, had four assists and two steals.
Austin said some of their trouble in the backcourt was due to Judge’s defensive efforts.
“Their defense was really good,” the senior said. “It’s tough when you’re getting guarded that well. And we made some adjustments in the fourth quarter, and then came back and finished it.”
Oakey said last year’s first-round exit has provided the Red Devils motivation to work hard this season.
“They’re resilient,” she said, choking back emotion. “And they don’t want to give up. They want to win. I get emotional thinking about it. Last year, they lost in the first round, and they walked out of the gym so motivated for this year. They’re all back and they’re all ready. And whether or not we make it to Saturday, it doesn’t matter. We’re going game by game. ... It’s the next step on our little ladder.”