RIVERTON — Bingham point guard Madison Aulai-Roe led her team into the locker room at halftime and immediately found a place to puke.
"Once I let it all out, I felt better," said Aulai-Roe, who's battled the flu since Tuesday night. "I just got some gum, so my breath didn't stink."
The senior's defense was key in keeping Riverton from gaining any kind of significant momentum as the top-ranked Miners stayed undefeated by beating second-ranked Riverton 49-39 in their first region meeting. She had critical steals and stifling perimeter defense, and all while trying not to puke into the bucket that sat near the Bingham bench during the game.
Riverton won the tip but quickly turned the ball over in the paint, which led to Bingham's first two points. The Miners would score 10 straight points, including two 3-pointers by two different players, while holding Riverton scoreless until 3:10 in the first quarter.
While Riverton's offense stalled, Bingham held onto the lead headed into half time, thanks to an impressive effort on the boards. Sheradyn Parker led the team with six rebounds, while Ashton Henderson added four rebounds.
Whitney Saunders led a much more aggressive effort by Riverton in the second half, starting with back-to-back steals by the senior forward and a 16-point performance.
It was Aulai-Roe's defensive effort — and leadership — that really kept the Silverwolves from building any significant momentum. "She hasn't eaten for a day and a half," said Bingham head coach Rand Rasmussen. "Whoever she guards is the other team's top player."
Struggling with the flu didn't change her role at all.
In fact, despite the fact that she was constantly puking on Wednesday, Aulai-Roe didn't miss a minute of school or a single drill during practice.
"Yesterday was the worst day," Aulai-Roe said. "I was just constantly throwing up." Still, there was never any doubt that she would start for Bingham against the region's only other undefeated team Thursday.
"I knew for sure I would play as hard as I could, if I got out there," she said.
Rasmussen said he asked her if she wanted to sit out of Thursday's game.
"She had the option, I asked her, 'Do you want to start?' And she said, 'Absolutely,’ ” he said. "In the second half she felt better, like she had a second wind."
Midway through the third quarter, he suggested she take a break, to which she responded, "I'm not coming out."
The Miners were led by Ashton Henderson, who finished with 18 points, including two 3-pointers.
"The great thing about our team is that it's always somebody different," said Henderson, who has committed to play for Snow College. "I guess I was lucky tonight."
Henderson said Aulai-Roe's performance did not shock her.
"It doesn't surprise me actually," said Henderson. "Maddy is our Energizer Bunny, and she'll come out and play hard no matter what. She plays as hard as she can, always."
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