The 2014-15 basketball season for Juan Diego Catholic High School’s girls basketball team didn’t exactly go as first-year coach Josh Archuleta thought it would. In fact, it went way better than expected. The Soaring Eagle program that had never won a state playoff game dominated its four games in the 3A tournament this year to win the state championship 67-47 over Morgan Feb. 28 at the Maverik Center to finish the season with a perfect 25-0 record.
“I knew there was a good team when I got here and I knew these girls could do it,” Archuleta said. “But, the fact that they actually pulled it off and to go undefeated was simply amazing.”
Juan Diego defeated Grantsville 61-26 in the first round of the state tournament Feb. 20 behind 15 points each from All-State player Monique Mills and sophomore Becca Curran while junior Ann Marie Nelson scored 11. In the quarterfinals, Mills and her twin sister Dominique Mills – who is also an All-State player – combined for 51 points, 20 rebounds and eight steals to lead their team past Desert Hills 73-58 Feb. 26.
Against Bear River in the semifinals Feb. 27, Juan Diego led by 20 points at halftime and held on to win 66-55 with Dominique putting in 19 points while Monique added 18. Seven other Juan Diego players – Nelson, Curran, Brynn Drummond, Mia Berengar, Abby Shemwell, Anna Ewoniuk and Sarah Christiansen – also scored to help the Soaring Eagle team advance to the title game.
Archuleta noted a key point in the season when his team was 16-0. He lost his mother, Juanita, to breast cancer Jan. 25, which is the same cancer that took Christiansen’s mother a year before. The team showed up decked out in their uniforms to the funeral viewing and services to rally around their coach.
“These girls showed up with food and support for my family throughout that time,” Archuleta said. “My family couldn’t believe that the girls would respond to me that way after just a few months of being their coach. “They adopted #JuanitaStrong throughout the rest of the year in her honor and wore pink shirts as a tribute to her.”
A region game at Uintah Jan. 27 – just following Juanita’s funeral – in which Monique Mills was ejected simply served to help strengthen team chemistry. “The girls really went to bat for Monique and that ejection actually started to bring them together as a team even more,” he said. “That week really inspired our girls to pull together and just go out and do what they were asked to do without complaining. It was amazing.”
Also on the squad this season were seniors Erin Stella and Tara Dooley; juniors Hayle Falvo and Maddie Colosimo; sophomores Gina Colosimo, Brie Veltri, Svaya George, Aurora Robles, Bella Sedillo, Madi O’Bryan, Mattea Van De Wiele and Grace Lebrecht; and freshmen Kallie Craig, Katrina Price, Eva Tavake, Bella Holt, Jenna Granja, Cynthia Gardner and Taitlyn Colosimo.