SPRINGVILLE - If you’d have been watching the Springville girls’ class 1A regional semi-final game on television with the sound turned off, you would have though the eighth-ranked Orioles were in complete control of their contest against a very talented Clinton Prince of Peace team Friday, Feb. 19.
For everyone who was packed inside the Springville gym that night, they knew that appearances can sometimes be deceiving.
In the end however, the reality was the game was never in doubt, especially with the way the Orioles were shooting the basketball from long range.
“This was our biggest crowd of the season and it was a very loud and intense atmosphere,” said Springville girls basketball coach Christina Zaruba, as her team led comfortably throughout the night, but was never able to completely blow the Irish off the floor taking the 62-48 final.
“The game was intense from start-to-finish with a lot of activity on the floor and in the stands, but honestly, with the way we were playing I was never nervous. At times it was a crazy game with how intense every basket seemed to be, but when you look at it, we were able to keep them at arm’s length through most of it and get the double-digit win, which at the regional semi-final level is impressive to get.”
Springville (20-4) came out firing on all cylinders as Grace Matus was orange-hot amazingly drilling three first quarter 3-pointers as the hosts jumped to a 20-12 lead.
An 11-4 start to the second stanza had the eighth-ranked Orioles up 31-16 before the game settled in with both teams trading baskets and Springville leading 37-26 at the halftime break.
Clinton Prince of Peace made a mini-run to start the third quarter and closed to within six points of the hosts at 39-33, but an 11-2 Oriole run to close the frame, keyed by a pair of Matus treys, had the hosts firmly in control once again, leading 50-35 heading into the final frame.
“Grace got us going and kept us going,” Zaruba said. “What an amazing shooting performance. This is the Grace Matus we’ve been waiting to see. We all know she can shoot like this, she does it in practice all the time, and once she splashed down that first, we told her if she’s open, keep shooting. And she kept making them. It was awesome to watch, you just knew she was feeling it.”
The Irish were never able to cut the Oriole lead below double-digits the rest of the way, even with the intense feel on the floor remaining until the final horn.
Lauren Wilson helped balance Matus’ hot shooting night from the perimeter with a dominating low-post presence scoring a game-high 22 points while adding nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. Matus finished with a total of five treys and added two free throws to tally 17 points and six rebounds while Morgan Nachazel also connected twice from beyond the arc and had 15 points and seven boards.
“When Lauren drives into the lane, she gets so much attention that it left our shooters open, and against Prince of Peace they knocked down the shots,” Zaruba said. “It helped that we were able to get them to play faster than they were comfortable playing, too. Prince of Peace is not used to running up and down the floor with people, and that’s pretty much our game. We controlled tempo, we got the win.”
The victory advances the Orioles to the class 1A regional final at Muscatine against a one-loss (19-1) and 10th-ranked Burlington-Notre Dame team Wednesday, Feb. 24, with a trip to the state tournament on the line. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
“On paper, this looks like a game between two very evenly matched teams,” Zaruba said. “They like to dribble-drive and kick it out for a lot of 3’s. The game, like they usually do, is probably going to come down to who makes more shots. Burlington-Notre Dame is a program used to going to the state tournament a lot like us, so they won’t wilt under the pressure. I’m hoping the fact that we’ve played in a tougher conference all season long is going to have us more prepared to face a good team and be ready for this situation than they are. They’ve pretty much dominated their competition all year. We’ll see.”