LAYTON — One of the many things basketball coaches like to preach is how a good defense turns into a good offense.
The Syracuse girls basketball coaches won't have to remind sophomore guard Whitney Sorenson about that anymore.
At one point during Tuesday's big Region 1 showdown at Layton High, Sorenson turned a 14-12 Lancers lead into an 18-14 Titans lead that they never gave up en route to a 53-45 win that keeps Syracuse unbeaten in Region 1.
The catalyst for the lead was Sorenson, pretty much all by herself.
Layton's Jayden Seegmiller stepped in and made a jump shot from the elbow to put the Lancers up 14-6 midway through the first quarter. They didn't capitalize and pretty soon, Syracuse forced a Layton timeout.
Specifically, Sorenson getting steals on four straight possessions forced a timeout. By Syracuse's unofficial count, she had seven for the game.
"They really wanted to get it to (Hailey Cuppett) obviously, she's a lights-out shooter, but I think that (head coach Braden Hamblin) put us in a correct defense for us to be able to steal the ball," Sorenson said.
She converted the four steals — all from picking off passes going for the wing or the corner — into two fast-break baskets, an assist on a third, and was fouled another time — or else she was in for another open layup.
That 14-6 deficit was suddenly a 21-16 lead early in the second quarter and a 28-24 lead at halftime. Sorenson finished with 10 points.
"I felt like we were a little lazy defensively in the first quarter, not as much energy, and I tell you what, she came out and gave us that energy, gave us that spark," Syracuse head coach Braden Hamblin said.
It turns out that run was enough to swing the game in Syracuse's favor as the Titans never trailed again, though they had to sweat for the win eventually.
Layton junior Hailey Cuppett, who led all scorers with 20 points, dribbled around a screen, pulled up on the wing and drained a 3-pointer for Layton that cut the lead to 42-40 and the Lancers called timeout to set up the press for the rest of the game.
Syracuse did just fine with the press, extending the lead to 46-40 when — who else? — Sorenson stole a pass at halfcourt and made an open layup. In the fourth quarter, the Titans shot 6 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Rachel Godfrey led Syracuse with 14 points.
"Our defense kept us together. I think that we do a really good job communicating (what's happening on) the baseline, and communicating shooters," Sorenson said. "So I think our defense held us together, Baylee (Sanders) shot the ball amazing, we hit free throws and shots at the end that we really needed."
The dagger came from the point guard Sanders, who made a deep 3-pointer out of a timeout to put Syracuse ahead 51-44 with a minute left.
Sanders also banked in a 3 at the end of the first quarter that brought the Titans to within one possession going into the second quarter.
Syracuse lost 38-36 in this building last year on a buzzer beater and are one of two teams, the other being Fremont, that are 5-0 in Region 1 games.
On Friday, the Titans will get the defending Region 1 champions at home.
"I don't have to tell them who we've got on Friday and we're going to come out and we'll be hungry for this opportunity. That's all it is, it's an opportunity to take down or compete against one of the best teams in the state," Hamblin said.