13 Mar Wonderview Lady Daredevils repeat as state champions
by Levi Gilbert
The Wonderview Lady Daredevils defeated Rural Special, 68-46, this past Saturday in the 1A girls’ state championship, securing the school’s first back-to-back state titles.
After a close first quarter, Wonderview held a slim lead, 18-17. Coach Jerod Squires was quick to change the game plan, and it paid off big time.
“Starting the second quarter and most of the second half, we decided not to full-court pressure them like we did for most of the first quarter,” Squires said. “We wanted to start the game applying full-court pressure to get the pace of play fast and possibly catch them off guard because we didn’t press them the last game we played them in the district tournament.
“However, during the first quarter while we were pressing, we were giving up some easy looks around the rim, so to start the second quarter we wanted to focus all of our energy on our half-court defense. By doing that we were able to force more turnovers in the half-court, which led to some points for us on the other end and helped us stretch our lead out.”
Wonderview outscored Rural Special 23-10 in the second quarter and only gave up six points in the third quarter. From there, the Lady Daredevils sailed to their second-straight title, and their third since 2012.
Wonderview’s four seniors led the way scoring. Faith Byers paced the Lady Daredevils with a double-double (17 points and 11 rebounds) on her way to earning Most Valuable Player honors. Kailey Gullett finished with 16 points and five steals, and Hadley Jones and Bailey Wright scored 12 and eight points, respectively.
“It’s hard to truly put into words what these four seniors have meant to the program over their six years,” Squires said. “I was told the other day that this group of seniors have a record of 188-21 from seventh grade until now. They are great role models on the court and off for the younger players here. As good of basketball players as they are, they are even better young ladies, and that’s because they all come from great families who instilled core values in them at a very early age.”
The seniors came up big in their final game, and the underclassmen performed well, too. Wonderview got 11 points off the bench.
“Even though we are losing four great players with our seniors, we still have players coming back that contributed in big ways in big games this year,” Squires said. “Juniors Abby Gullett, Mallory Jones and Alexis McClaren all played big roles during our postseason run, and I look for them to step up and take on much larger roles next year. Juniors Rylea Ward and Taylor Zimmerman and sophomores Audrey Beck, Emmy Lou Duvall and Faith Thomas all saw playing time in every game in the state tournament, and all will be able to contribute in larger roles next season to help continue the tradition that has been established here at Wonderview.”
This year’s state title was Squires’ second title overall as a head coach (he led the Wonderview boys to a state title in 2010). Squires has coached for 18 years (with all but one year at Wonderview) and took over as head coach of the Lady Daredevils in February in addition to his head coaching duties for the Wonderview boys. Squires had also been serving as the Lady Daredevils assistant coach before the change, and he serves as Wonderview’s athletic director. He’s worn several hats for Wonderview this season, but the plan is to put one of those hats back down.
“The goal is to hire a girls head coach,” Squires said. “Hopefully we can have that done before school is out for the summer so the coach and players will have the opportunity to attend team camps and practice during the summer.”