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Girls basketball playoffs: Barber helps Box Elder bounce past Northridge 54-32

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Feb 22, 2024
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Northridge's Karlee Mayfield (30) and Box Elder's Kamri Andersen (5) contest the jump ball before their 5A state second-round playoff game Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Brigham City.
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BRIGHAM CITY — For eight minutes, Thursday night’s 5A second-round battle looked every bit like two girls basketball region foes playing each other for the third time.

But behind the two-way spark from guard Kaydence Barber, No. 4 Box Elder put its foot down in the second quarter, ultimately pulling away from No. 13 Northridge 54-32.

The Bees (19-5) advance to face the winner of No. 5 Alta and No. 12 Olympus at 9:10 p.m. Saturday at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center. It’s Box Elder’s first trip to the state quarterfinals since 2019 and first time advancing to the third round of the postseason since 2017.

“It means a lot because we’ve been playing together since we were like 10 years old,” Barber said. “We’ve been friends for so long and we’re just so connected, so we’re happy to do it together”

Barber ultimately led Box Elder with 13 points and a whopping eight steals, with four of them leading directly to her own layups. Maddie Thurgood added 12 points and Jocelyn Vranes pitched in seven.

In a rock-fight first quarter, the teams played to a 2-2 score beyond the midway point of the frame and Box Elder held a 10-8 lead when it ended.

Barber, tasked with defending Northridge’s top scorer in Kaylee Hess (15 points per game, 1,000-plus career), swarmed the court with three steals in the second quarter — two that she took immediately for coast-to-coast scoops.

“The steals give me adrenaline so I think it helps change the game,” Barber said. “My teammates as well, it’s really good for us to get those.”

Box Elder totaled 16 steals as a team; Thurgood added four, along with seven rebounds.

Barber scored a cutting layup on post past from Jaylee Chappell, then Chappell scored in the post to cap an 11-0 Bees run.

Hess knocked down a corner 3, Northridge’s only points of the second quarter, to end the rally. But the damage was done and Box Elder took a 22-11 lead into halftime.

Hess finished with 18 points to lead Northridge (13-12) and, after fouling out in the final two minutes, was given applause for her game and career. Karlee Mayfield scored eight points and Izzy Kap added six.

Leading 37-21 after three quarters, Box Elder iced the game against Northridge pressure when Olivia Godfrey and Hannah Jeppsen drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for a 45-23 advantage two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original online version to add additional statistics that were unavailable at Thursday night press time.


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