Girls' basketball • Juan Diego's zone defense slows down Titans in heated game.
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Draper • For a school that opened its doors just five years ago, Syracuse has quickly cemented itself as a powerhouse for girls' basketball. The Titans won two of the last three 5A state championships and at one point had a 70-1 record since the start of the 2010 season.
The fall from grace has been rather swift, too.
Syracuse started the season with two consectutive losses and fell again on Thursday, a 67-59 road loss at the hands of the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle. Frustration on the Syracuse sideline abounded as sophomore guard Mateah Tuckett and coach Rob Reisbeck were issued technical fouls in the second half.
Reisbeck refused an interview request from The Salt Lake Tribune.
The bench opposite the Titans saw a young Juan Diego team that looked very much on a rise to power of their own in the 3A ranks.
"This was our Super Bowl," said sophomore Monique Mills, who led the Soaring Eagle with 20 points.
"This game had a state championship feel to it," Juan Diego coach Natalie Williams said.
Williams opted to play uncharacteristic zone defense in an attempt to slow down Syrause's junior star Jayda Bovero, who finished with 22 points but didn't lead her team in scoring.
"We usually play man, but we needed to change it up," Williams said. "[Bovero] was killing us. I think we did a good job, we just need to work on closing out because we don't practice a lot of zone."
Syracuse's full-court pressure defense gave Juan Diego fits early, forcing a 10-second backcourt violation in the first half and prompting Williams to yell to her team, "You're not going to dribble through the press!"
"Our point guard [junior Melanie Mecham] didn't play a lot of varsity last year, so now the role is all hers," Williams said. "It's hard for her. She just has to learn when to push it and when to slow it up."
Syracuse senior Takenna Hamblin led all scorers with 25 points. Juan Diego senior forward Lancee Whetman the Soaring Eagle's lone senior starter scored 14 points while sophomore Dominique Mills added 12.
Storylines Soaring Eagle 67, Titans 59
R Monique Mills leads Juan Diego with 20 points in the home win.
• Takenna Hamblin puts up 25 points in Syracuse's losing effort, and Jayda Bovero adds 22.
• Only one senior, Lancee Whetman, starts for the Soaring Eagle.