Titans get within one point, but Miners finish strong.
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Taylorsville • Mackenzie Bruggeman was having a bad night.
The Bingham forward had watched layups rim out and jump shots clank off the iron. She had shot 12 times and made just two buckets. But with time winding down, and the upset-minded Syracuse Titans looking for one more stop to help erase undefeated Bingham's one-point lead, Miners coach Rand Rasmussen looked to his struggling senior.
"I told her in that last time out, 'You're probably due,' " the coach said. "You've missed 12 in a row, eight of them have been bricks. You're probably going to be the one."
Moments later, with the Titans swarming the Miners and hoping to create a turnover, Bruggeman saw teammate Ashton Henderson look her way.
"I knew it was coming to me," Bruggeman said.
The forward met the pass, spun into the post and kissed it off the glass to help put the game away. The Miners held on to win 43-36 to advance to the Class 5A semifinals.
"It's hard not to get frustrated with myself because that's the natural thing to do, but the only thing I can do is keep positive and try to do it for my team," Bruggeman said after the win.
Asked if she ever doubted the 23-0 Miners would advance, she said, simply, no.
"It's hard to explain the [team] chemistry," said Bruggeman, who like the rest of her Miner teammates has her hair in cornrows and braids for the state tournament.
"I just know if we play the way we play ... nothing can stop us."
The Titans, however, certainly came close.
A sloppy first quarter one that saw Henderson hit the bottom of the rim on a layup only to see Syracuse's Logan Harker travel on the ensuing fast break gave way to a see-sawing slugfest in the second.
Bingham started the second quarter off with an 8-0 run. But the Titans regrouped, and matched big shot with big shot.
Jillian Powell scored 10 straight points for Bingham, stretching from the end of the second quarter into the fourth. She finished with a game-high 12.
The Miners turned the ball over 21 times, something Rasmussen attributed to Syracuse coach Rob Reisbeck's style of play.
"Syracuse forces you to play a way you don't want to play," Rasmussen said. "He hasn't won two titles in the last three years without knowing what he's doing. He made us do some stuff that we normally don't."
Syracuse's Takenna Hamblin scored eight in the period, including a put-back at the buzzer to give the Titans a one-point lead.
But Bingham held the Titans to just four points in the final period, finishing the game on a 11-2 run.
Bingham will face Layton, a team that has already pulled off an upset in the tournament, in the semifinals.
"I didn't want to go undefeated," Rasmussen said. "I wanted a couple losses just so [the players] pay attention a little bit better. We said right from the front we would be the hunted, and I think we are."