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Girls' basketball: Syracuse completes undefeated title quest

Published February 25, 2012 4:14 pm

Britney Martin leads Syracuse to second state title in three years to cap undefeated season.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Taylorsville • It seemed almost longer than a year ago, but the events were burned in the Titans' memories. All season, they drew on that painful day — watching Alta celebrate a state championship after shattering Syracuse's undefeated run.

But on Saturday, the Titans girls' basketball team made sure they'd have one more memory that could bring a smile.

"It still feels like I have another year left," senior forward Brittney Martin said. "It's not the same kind of feeling as the last time we took state — it feels a lot better."

Syracuse finished its yearlong crusade — an undefeated season in which they beat every opponent by double digits — with a 63-50 Class 5A state championship victory over Region 1 rival Weber at Salt Lake Community College. The title, the Titans' second in three years, completed a full circle for a group of seniors that has lost only five games in the past four seasons.

Martin was at the heart of Syracuse's most important win yet, tallying 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and seven steals. The four-year starter was all over the floor, stunning the crowd with dazzling passes and hard-fought buckets. And throughout — even when Weber briefly took a lead — Martin was the ever-upbeat leader.

Of course, with the Titans up only 26-25 at halftime, Martin didn't hold back her tongue, either. The Titans had a lead only because of a Natasha Monroe jumper before the buzzer.

"Well, basically in the first half we played like crap on defense," Martin said. "It was not good. We knew we had to play harder and pick it up."

The third quarter went like a dream for the Titans — Martin later said it was better than a dream — as they inched away from the Warriors, outscoring them 20-8. Syracuse's full-court press kept a strong shooting Weber team to only 32 percent from the field in the second half.

Martin was a highlight reel, particularly on a half-court pass to Abby Call that led to a layup.

But Syracuse had strong contributions throughout its lineup.

Junior forward Courtney Starks had a star performance, working past Weber's interior defense for a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. Call went 6-for-11 from the field with 13 points. Makenlee Williams struggled from the field but had five assists in an appearance limited by foul trouble.

Weber did not give up easily. Guards Erin Reichle and Erica Olpin had another strong game, combining for 29 points, and giving up only 14 turnovers against the Titans' pressure. But despite stacking defenders inside, the Warriors could not stop Syracuse from getting a 46-22 scoring advantage in the paint.

For Syracuse, it was the perfect conclusion to a journey that goes further back than just this season.

"It's been a long year, but the kids made it fun to be their coach," Titans coach Rob Reisbeck said. "We challenged them to get better, to make sure what happened last year didn't happen again. And they've all stepped up. They worked so hard and got better."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Highlights

R Syracuse caps undefeated season with 5A title.

• Senior Brittney Martin finishes 89-5 in four years as a starter.

• Junior Courtney Starks leads the Titans with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

• Erica Olpin and Erin Reichle combine for 29 points for Weber.