Kaysville — Sweeping their first league girls basketball title since the 2006-07 season did not earn the Darts any special concessions or give them an automatic berth into Saturday’s state 5-A championship game.
“Our bracket is brutal,” said Davis High coach Anne Jones. “You have to do what you do well that got you to the dance. We’re focusing on things we do well and trying to get better at things we do well, while also trying to get better at things we may not do well.”
The Region 1 champion Darts (15-6 overall) have won two straight and are 13-2 in their last 15 games going into today’s first-round matchup versus West in Bruin Arena at Salt Lake Community College.
The Panthers (11-10) topped Taylorsville 48-43 on Feb. 15 in a Region 2 fourth-place playoff game at Granger.
“Being in Region 1 has prepared us for the state tournament,” Jones said. “I told the girls not to make any plans for the rest of the week, but we have to take care of business on Monday.”
A Davis victory today sets up a quarterfinal-round game Wednesday against the Riverton-Brighton winner.
“This is the third part of the season for us,” Jones said. “After Region 1, we are battle tested and have seen everything you can imagine. We’ve seen great scorers — (Erin) Reichle, (Maddi) Smith, (Amanda) Wayment, (Shelbee) Molen, (Sydnee) Acord and (Jayda) Bovero — plus different defenses, presses and offenses.
“(Undefeated) Bingham is the cream of the crop and after that it’s wide-open,” she said. “There are a lot of good teams with us in the mix.”
The Darts are No. 5 in the 5-A ranks in scoring (51.6 points per game) and ninth in points allowed (44.0 ppg).
“We have a good inside-outside combination with good guards and shooters and kids who can control the floor,” Jones said. “This is my third year as head coach. I started when this group was sophomores, so we have grown together.
“This is my second family for sure, and I love these girls,” she said. “For the seven seniors, it’s all about the team. They are great leaders, and the juniors and sophomores are along for the ride.”
Senior center Jessica Richardson (13.9 ppg) and senior power forward Natalie Mecham (12.2 ppg) are Davis’ top two scorers.
“Natalie was the missing piece to the puzzle,” Jones said. “I never feel safe. I’m always nervous and always preparing. I believe in this team, but I’m not overconfident.”
Mecham and her family moved to Kaysville in June 2012 from Mesa, Ariz.
“I think I’ve brought leadership and I compliment Jessica inside,” said the 18-year-old Mecham.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” Jones said. “We’ll go in and do our best and hope this region has prepared us. We have more experience and being there last year will help us. We have to rebound and take care of the ball.”
The Darts’ last state 5-A quarterfinal-round appearance came back in 2008.
“We had it as a goal to win region, so I’m not surprised we won region,” said Davis senior small forward/shooting guard Emily Bott. “We have a really good team with good chemistry and we get along really well.”
In their Feb. 14 practice, the Darts “worked on a lot of offense, shooting and conditioning. We have to keep our conditioning up for Monday,” Bott said. “It was good to have a day off Wednesday (Feb. 13) to catch up on homework. We’ll focus on defense and more conditioning Friday (Feb. 15).
“We’ll do some preparation on Saturday (Feb. 16),” she said. “Right now it’s more about Davis than who we play. I think we’re ready to go. It’s going to take a lot of mental preparation, focus, good practices and playing with intensity. I think we’re playing our best basketball right now.”
Bott also speaks highly of Mecham.
“The first time Natalie came to one of the open gyms I noticed how good she was at communicating,” Bott said. “Now we have two good post players with her and Jessica.
“My role is to keep everybody happy, not just in basketball, but away from the game, too,” she said. “We do things away from basketball, so the team chemistry is really good. I get stuff sorted out and get everybody where they need to be.”