Team of the Year: Bountiful met high expectations with 5A state championship, 23-1 record
Not many teams around the area began the girls basketball season with reasonably high expectations. Even fewer actually met the goals and expectations that were written on the proverbial whiteboard in early November.
Bountiful High’s team did all of that by winning the 5A state championship, winning an unbeaten Region 5 championship and going 23-1 overall, with those 23 wins coming by an average of 23 points per game.
Bountiful is the 2023 Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Basketball Team of the Year.
“We felt like we had one of the best, if not the best, teams in 5A and so I mean it really became expected,” coach Joel Burton said. “We’d talk about it in practice, we’d talk and it’s not often you hear some of those discussions in my practices where we’re talking winning a state title that early.”
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a team early, but the Redhawks had an experienced team with a lot of motivation, and the pressure ultimately didn’t get in the way.
The Redhawks’ five top scorers averaged between 8.0 and 14.8 points per game, four players averaged five or more rebounds per game and their defense gave up a 5A-best 36.3 points per game on defense.
In their biggest regular-season win, the Redhawks held Northridge to 22.6% shooting and won by six in overtime on the road.
Plenty of other times, they forced teams’ shooting percentages into the low 30s, 20s or even the teens. In the state semifinal and championship games, Bountiful held Skyline and Springville to a combined 33.3% shooting.
“Just the size of our kids, the athletic ability of our kids caused a lot of problems and so we prided ourselves on defense last year, and we just continued on with that,” Burton said.
For reference, Bountiful’s starting lineup was sophomore Taylor Harvey (6-foot-3), senior Jordyn Harvey (6-0), senior Claire Cook (5-10), freshman Milika Satuala (5-10) and senior Lizzy McConkie (5-6).
Taylor Harvey anchored the defense and led the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game. Claire Cook usually picked up the other team’s best player on defense. Jordyn Harvey led the team in steals (3.8 per game).
Perhaps ironically, it was McConkie who got her fingertips on Springville’s final inbound pass in the state championship game with 1.3 seconds left, which started the clock on its way to running out and resulting in Bountiful’s 41-39 win.
The 2021-22 season ended in the semifinals with a 41-21 (yes, 21) loss to Springville, who everyone in 5A pointed to as the odds-on favorite to win it all this year — owing to the Red Devils being two-time defending champions and bringing back most of the 2021-22 team.
Bountiful started the season 3-0, then beat Springville 58-50 in December, then won five more games before suffering its only loss at Ridgeline, 50-43. Burton, who was an assistant coach at Ogden under Phil Russell before taking the Bountiful job in 2008, called it a good loss that opened the team’s eyes a little bit.
The Redhawks then breezed to a consecutive Region 5 title and entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed.
It was a little fitting that the girls basketball season ended with a 1-versus-2 matchup between Springville and Bountiful in the championship game at Weber State, and also fitting that it was a two-point game that came down to the final possession.
Bountiful, though it was certainly expected to win Region 5 and make some sort of state tournament run, had a few things to work out before the season.
First, Burton didn’t know for sure if Jordyn Harvey would play basketball this season. She initially didn’t play last year, then was able to join the team late in the season.
Having Jordyn Harvey on the team — she’s signed with Stanford’s volleyball team as an outside hitter — tremendously helped things from both a basketball and leadership perspective, Burton said. She averaged 9.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Next, Burton wanted a little more depth on this year’s squad. Two freshmen helped that cause: Satuala and Adelaide Stevenson.
Satuala began the year coming off the bench, moved into the starting lineup after three games, eventually scored a team-high 16 points with the game-winning shot in the championship game and finished as the team’s second-leading scorer.
In the moments after the championship win where she played such a huge role, Satuala insisted on calling the game a team win.
“It was definitely a team effort; if Lizzy (McConkie)’s 3-pointer hadn’t gotten us there …” Satuala said. “I’m so proud that I could help our team to get to this point and that we got there. I’m so proud of my whole team.”
And finally, the Redhawks had to beat Springville again. They’d defeated Springville in early December, three months and a whole host of game experience earlier.
Everyone knew the title would eventually go through the Red Devils, no matter how good anyone else was, and SHS entered the tournament with a 23-2 record. A lot of things had to come together for Bountiful to go 23-1 and win two trophies, and they all did.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at email@example.com, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.