WASHINGTON TERRACE — As the Wahlquist Junior High girls basketball team found out through painful, first-hand experience a season ago, season-long dominance doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the championship game.
Despite being undefeated and averaging a 45-point margin of victory as it entered the Weber School District championship game a year ago, Wahlquist lost to Orion — a team it defeated by 36 earlier in the season.
Facing a similar situation as it entered the 2017 district championship game Friday at Bonneville High School, Wahlquist — which entered the contest undefeated and averaging a 40-point margin of victory — demonstrated the lesson had been learned.
Wahlquist put together a 20-0 run in the opening quarter and squashed T.H. Bell 62-34.
“The important part is getting a big start, coming out ready to play, and they did that,” Wahlquist coach Rex Romander said. “If you don’t jump out on it well and you let the other team hang around, they start to build up hope, they start to build momentum, and all of the sudden the intensity picks up and they believe they got a shot.
“That’s what happened last year. This year we jumped out on it, put them out early, and we got the start that we needed to help prevent that from happening.”
It’s no secret last year’s debacle weighed on the minds of this year’s team.
“Last year, we kind of lost hard, and ever since I wanted to win the championship,” Sidney East said.
Aven Mueller said the team talked about the need for working “more as a team” and making sure to “build each other up instead of putting each other down.”
It was obvious in the early going Friday that teamwork was not going to be an issue. Five Eagles scored as Wahlquist built a 25-2 lead.
T.H. Bell never got closer than 17 the rest of the game.
Wahlquist made 18 field goals in the first half while T.H. Bell made just three. The Eagles led 53-19 at the end of the third quarter.
Emma Calvert scored 18 points and was one of three Eagles to reach double figures. East tallied 13 and Hoku Sagapolu finished with 11.
Berkley Heileson added nine for Wahlquist.
“We didn’t come in underestimating T.H. Bell,” Heileson said. “We realized we had to play our very best or else we weren’t going to win this game and the same thing was going to happen as last year.”
Carrigan Sanders led T.H. Bell with 11 points.