By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
As the Cedar girls embarked on their first game in the 4A state basketball playoffs, they found themselves in an unfamiliar position – being behind on the scoreboard.
The slow start didn’t last very long.
Sophomore Japrix Weaver scored nine of her game-high 12 points in the second quarter, and the Lady Reds used a 14-2 run to close the first half and gain control in a 56-34 rout over the Bear River Bears on Feb. 23. Cedar stretched its winning streak to eight straight and improved to 18-4 overall.
Head coach Corry Nielson said being unfamiliar with Bear River led to the team’s early struggles when they fell behind by four points twice in the first quarter.
“They’re a brand-new team and we hadn’t played them before,” Nielson said of the Bears. “We had a scouting report on them and knew exactly what they were going to do, but it takes time to adjust to players you haven’t seen.”
The Lady Reds trailed 7-3 midway through the first quarter, but put together an 8-0 run that Dream Weaver finished off with a 3-point play that put them in front 11-7. Bear River kept the score close at 16-12 early in the second on four points from McKenzie Bywater before Japrix Weaver caught fire and turned the momentum firmly toward the home team.
“In that second and third quarter, we found out who we are,” Nielson said. “We attacked the basket and did some really good things.”
Freshman Logann Laws was a catalyst in the big run that closed the first half, coming up with a pair of steals that led to layups in the final minute and pushed the Cedar lead to 30-14 at the break.
The reserves had plenty of opportunity to get involved in the second half, and they took full advantage. Emma Brower got inside for a basket that led to a 3-point play, and senior Lexi Williams added a layup of her own that put the lead at 44-16, Cedar’s largest of the game.
Senior Carley Davis scored seven of her 10 points in the second half and said the defense helped overcome the slow beginning.
“We started playing better defense, and that’s our emphasis,” Davis said. “It helped us turn it into offense.”
Bear River outscored Cedar 15-12 in the fourth quarter and was led by 10 points from Rachel Fronk. The Bears, who earned the No. 4 seed from Region 12 after a play-in victory over Sky View, finished the season with a 7-15 record.
Cedar advances to a quarterfinal game against Salem Hills, the co-champions from Region 10. The Skyhawks got 29 points and 13 rebounds from Lauren Gustin and beat Tooele 62-25 to improve to 21-1 on the season.
CEDAR 56, BEAR RIVER 34
Bear River 8 6 5 15 — 34
Cedar 12 18 14 12 — 56
Bear River – Bittner 5, Fronk 10, Bywater 8, Call 2, Cottle 5, Sidwell 4. Totals 6 19-27 34. 3-pointers – Bittner 1, Fronk 2.
Cedar – D. Weaver 5, J. Weaver 12, Laws 7, Shoop 4, Williams 2, Davis 10, Fielding 8, Brower 6, K. Oldroyd 2. Totals 20 13-22 56. 3-pointers – J. Weaver 2, Davis 1.