TAYLORSVILLE — Two days after kicking off the chaos that reigned in the first round of the 5A girls basketball tournament, Box Elder had plenty of reason and belief that the dream was still alive.
Earlier Wednesday, No. 4 seed Highland advanced to the semifinals — but there was no more underdog magic to be had. Box Elder, as head coach Aaron Dooley put it, ran into a buzzsaw.
The Bees’ 58-37 loss to Timpview (19-4) in Wednesday’s 5A quarterfinal played like a boxing match at times.
The Thunderbirds started the game shooting 6 of 6 from the field and could’ve really blown the game open if not for turnovers.
It was a knockdown and not a knockout, but after shooting 46 percent from the field against Skyridge on Monday, the Bees started slow.
“We couldn’t really break Emily (Isaacson) free, and we just couldn’t really get anything that was very easy,” Dooley said.
Isaacson drained a 3-pointer as part of her 12 points to give the Bees a push heading to the second quarter. But the Thunderbirds scored another big hit at the end of the first half, an 11-2 run that turned into a 26-15 halftime lead.
The Bees wobbled. Then came the knockout, another 11-2 run early in the third quarter, punctuated by Shalyn Fano’s fastbreak and-one that forced a Bees timeout with the score 38-18. Fano scored 14 points.
“The tournament’s kind of a different animal, whether you’re up 20 or you’re down 20, it normally doesn’t stay like that,” Thunderbirds’ head coach Aimee Dorais said. “Someone’s going to make a push, someone’s going to let off the gas a little bit and our goal was regardless of the circumstances, just don’t stop.”
Turnovers flummoxed Box Elder and many led to fastbreak finishes by Timpview’s Jasmine Espinoza, who dominated a particular stretch of the third quarter and scored a game-high 19 points.
If the Bees take solace from anything — hard to do in a season-ending loss — it’s that a fair portion of their team returns next year, most of the Region 5 teams graduate key players, and they weren’t supposed to be in the quarterfinals in the first place based on the 1 vs. 4 matchup in the first round.
Dooley praised the seniors on the team, who endured a 4-17 season in 2014-15, followed by a 9-13 campaign before last year’s shared region championship.
“From where the program was when we started to where it is now, those girls that are coming, they’ve had the fortunate opportunity of watching girls work hard and they know what it takes in order to compete,” Dooley said.
There is some irony in that last time Timpview and Box Elder played was in 2007, a first-round playoff game at Timpview that the Thunderbirds won. Two games later, they won the state championship.