Hillcrest High School senior Maycee Stenquist had never set foot in Thunder Ridge High School's gym until Thursday's nonconference game.
The four-year varsity player got familiar with the multicolored hardwood court quickly, scoring 13 points and snagging crucial assists and rebounds in her team's 55-38 nonconference win over the Titans.
The game put former teammates against each other as well. Titans starters Sierra John and Avery Turnage came to Thunder Ridge from Hillcrest, and Stenquist said it was odd to see them in blue and white jerseys.
"Sierra John, she's their person," Stenquist said. "We played together last year. You want to high five them sometimes during the game and then you remember, 'oh, they're not on my team.' It's just something you have to get used to."
Second-year Hillcrest head coach Alan Sargent described Thursday's meeting with the Titans as similar to the one in November. He said 'there's something about' Thunder Ridge and former players facing each other that makes the Knights begin the game tight.
"It's hard to play against people you know and respect," Sargent said. "You just have to get past being nice and remember this is a game."
The Titans had the edge in that tight beginning, taking a 13-9 lead after the first quarter thanks to a 7-for-8 free throw performance. The Knights improved their rebounding in the second quarter, particularly on the defensive end, and snagged a 15-13 lead at the 5:34 mark after Hallie Carlson hit her second of two 3-point baskets within a minute of each other. The Knights ended the first half on a 10-2 run, getting baskets from Stenquist, Ashlyn Sargent, Livia Wood and Macey Larsen to enter halftime up 25-17.
"We knew we had to pick it up," Stenquist said. "We knew that we had to step it up as a team. We just started trusting each other more and it made a big difference."
John went 2-for-2 from the free throw line to cut Thunder Ridge's deficit to 25-19 to begin the second half, but those shots as well as two free throws from Mckenzie Detonancour ended up being the Titans' lone points of the third quarter. Stenquist went to work in that stretch, getting four points and assisting Wood and Sargent on baskets as the Knights ended the third up 37-21.
"People see that she scores a lot of points for us, but she's always our assists leader and she's almost always our leading rebounder," coach Sargent said.
Both teams made numerous substitutions in the fourth as Hillcrest's lead stretched to as much as 47-27 with 2:27 left in the game.
John had a game-high 14 points while Kamrin Ottley and Detonancour had nine points each for Thunder Ridge (4-11), which hosts Bonneville on Saturday.
Titans coach Jeremy Spencer said he has a lot of respect for the Knights, who have several players he knows well, and said the Titans' task is to work on the little things as they move forward.
"Sarge (coach Sargent) and Jorg (Hillcrest assistant coach Mike Jorgensen), they're good people," Spencer said. "I was over there for a long time. We made young mistakes. We're all learning together. We've got to work on the little things because we don't have the experience other teams have. They work hard and that's the best part."
Carlson added 10 points and Ashlyn Sargent added nine for the Knights (7-6), who host Shelley on Saturday.
Stenquist may not have made her final trip to the Titans' gym, either. Thunder Ridge is where her younger sisters will be attending, and she said it will be strange to get used to seeing blue instead of red.
"My mom for Christmas this year, she got them blue and black outfits," Stenquist said.