6A girls basketball playoffs: Davis wins close, advances to 1st state semifinal since 2007
OGDEN — A couple weeks ago, Davis High’s girls basketball team ended one drought by winning a share of its first region championship since 2013.
Tuesday, the No. 3 Darts ended another drought at Weber State’s Dee Events Center. They advanced to their first state semifinal since 2007 by hanging on to beat No. 6 Herriman 48-44, continuing their relatively out-of-nowhere march through the 2023 season into the month of March itself.
Tuesday wasn’t a routine win. The Darts committed 22 turnovers, their star player was held to nine points and they let a nine-point lead slip to two in the waning seconds, but still improved to 6-0 in single-digit games this season.
“We thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for us after such a really, really fantastic year last year. We lost really a lot of talented players, but these guys, I’m so proud of them,” Davis coach Anne Jones said. “We have a very, very young team and they just grind it out, day in and day out and we just find ways to win — and Herriman is a really good veteran team and we just handled it today.”
Freshman T’maea Eteuati scored 13 points with eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and zero turnovers off the bench. Eteuati went on a personal 6-0 run in the fourth quarter that gave Davis its biggest lead of the game each time at 40-31, 42-33 and 44-35.
Aryanna Bull made two free throws at the 2:27 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Darts up 46-37, then they didn’t score again until Bull made two foul shots with 16.8 seconds left that gave the game its final score, 48-44.
Jones said she was proud of a young Davis team holding its nerve in a postseason environment it was unfamiliar with.
“We gotta play to win and not play not to lose. You do get a little bit tentative, a little bit tight, especially for this young team,” Jones said. “We’ve really only got one player who’s played postseason stuff and two others, Ary Bull and Kate Richards, who got a little bit of varsity time last year.”
They’d done enough in the interim defensively to not be undone by an ill-timed scoring drought. Their main focus was defending the 3-point line first, and then the paint. Herriman shot 3 of 14 on 3s and 15 of 52 (28.8%) overall.
“We just prepared really well for them, we knew what their strengths were and we tried to shut them down, and I feel like we did a pretty good job at that,” junior forward Kendra Kitchen said.
The defensive play was needed throughout a game where, like a handful of times the previous 2-3 weeks, Kitchen drew extra defensive attention.
From the outset, Herriman denied Kitchen in the post, threw double teams at her on catches and held her to nine points, six rebounds, 3-of-11 shooting and nine turnovers.
“Felt proud to be on this team and get to the semis; it feels really good to make it this far after so many years,” Kitchen said.
And just like some games the last 2-3 weeks, the rest of the team stepped up and combined to shoot 13 of 27 from the field and 3 of 7 on 3-pointers when teams tightly defended Kitchen.
The Darts’ star junior has averaged 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season a year after averaging 11.3 and 8.1 as a sophomore.
“I feel like everyone has raised their game a ton because we have to play as a whole team. Kendra’s a really great player and it’s good to have five great players on the floor, so I feel like we just all have to show out every game,” Eteuati said.
Kate Richards scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with two steals and Bull had 10 points with six rebounds.
One can expect the Darts will have a tough game against pressure-happy Skyridge in Thursday’s 4:40 p.m. semifinal, and they’ll need to prioritize ball security to have a chance at winning.
At this point, though, Davis is indeed happy to still be playing basketball in March.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at email@example.com, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.