Sunday, February 24, 2013

State Basketball.

    SALT LAKE CITY — The Snow Canyon girls basketball team took its first step toward defending its 3A championship from a year ago.The Warriors defeated host Judge Memorial, 61-57, in the opening round of the 2013 3A state tournament Saturday evening.
“That’s as intense as they get,” Snow Canyon coach Wade Jensen said after the foul-filled game. “That’s two good teams going to battle until the very end.”
Ultimately, it wasn’t until the final seconds that the Warriors secured the win.
With the score tied 55-55 and just 2:40 remaining, Snow Canyon took the lead behind two free throws by Grace Walton. On the ensuing possession, however, Walton dove after a loose ball, banged her forehead on the court, and left the game with a bloody cut. She was restricted from returning due to a suspected concussion.
The next 45 seconds involved a succession of Snow Canyon errors, including turnovers and fouls, giving the Bulldogs plenty of opportunities to potentially take control.
However, while Judge guard Emily Smith hit two foul shots with 1:09 remaining to re-tie the game at 57-57, Snow Canyon's Ashlee Nyborg and Amy Harris put the game out of reach with two freebies apiece in the final seconds.
“We had about three or four girls that went down with injuries or cuts or other things,” Jensen said. “We had a lot of girls step up that made plays for us.”.
Senior Megan Leavitt was a difference-maker for the Warriors. The 6-foot-1 forward scored just six points in the entire first half before catching fire for 12 points in the third. She finished the game with a game-high 21 points and 17 rebounds.
“We thought we had an advantage in the post, and that’s what our game plan coming in was,” Jensen said, adding that the Bulldogs could not stay with Leavitt down low. “She played well. She played great for us.”
Harris, meanwhile, finished with 13 points and Nyborg added 10. Walton scored all nine of her points for Snow Canyon in the second half before leaving the game due to the injury.
The Bulldogs were led by Smith’s 20 points, while Kailie Quinn contributed 17 points.
“I thought our girls stepped up and played D, and we made some plays down the stretch that we needed to make,” Jensen said. “We have a lot of these girls that went through it last year for us. We’re thrilled with their performance and they played hard.”
The Warriors advance to the second round of the tournament, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dee Events Center.

      OGDEN — Snow Canyon’s girls basketball team needed a pick-me-up.Although the Warriors did lead Delta by one at the half of Thursday’s 3A quarterfinal, they had trounced the Rabbits by 21 back in the preseason and were expected to roll again in the playoffs.
A little motivational speech at halftime put the Warriors back on track.
“We talked about just wanting it and heart, doing it for the love of the game and each other,” said Snow Canyon center Megan Leavitt.Snow Canyon did just that in the second half at the Dee Events Center, and quickly put an end to any upset chatter. The defending state champion Warriors held Delta to 24 percent shooting in the second half and built a 20-point lead at one point on their way to a routine 53-36 victory.Amy Harris and Ashlee Nyborg scored 12 each for Snow Canyon, with Leavitt chipping in with seven points and 10 rebounds.Snow Canyon advances to Friday’s 3A semifinals against rival Desert Hills at 2:30 p.m.“We know each other really well. We have quite a history,” said Snow Canyon coach Wade Jensen.The two 3A finalists last year split their regular-season meetings this season, with Snow Canyon winning 53-46 on Jan. 8 and Desert Hills returning the favor emphatically with a 54-33 win on Jan. 31.Early on Thursday, it looked like sluggish Snow Canyon might play its way into the consolation bracket, as the Warriors only led 22-21 at the half. Jensen attributed a lot of the struggles to rebounding.“We focus a lot on rebounds, and I thought they out rebounded us there. And when we give up two or three shots, we struggled,” said Jensen.
Even though Snow Canyon still had a 22-18 edge in rebounding in the first half, Jensen still wasn’t happy and his players made a much more concerted effort to keep the Rabbits off the boards in the second half.

       OGDEN — Unfinished business.Those words are written on plastic bracelets being worn by the Desert Hills High School girls basketball players and coaches this season, reminding them that in last year's state tournament, they came up one win short of taking home the coveted championship.
Well, the Thunder will get a chance to finish their business and earn some redemption today. They punched their ticket to a second straight state title game with a sweet revenge victory over Snow Canyon — the same team that knocked off Desert Hills for the 3A girls championship a year ago — in their state semifinal match up at the Dee Events Center.Friday's 40-30 win sends Region 9 champion Desert Hills (22-2) into today's tourney title game against league rival Dixie (17-7), which earned its berth in the finals with a gritty 33-31 win over Cedar in Friday's other semifinal showdown."That's kind of been our motto this season — unfinished business," said bright-eyed Desert Hills junior guard Blair Bliss, who scored a game-high 20 points and also grabbed five rebounds. "It's a good reminder about last year, and we don't want it to happen again.
"Getting back there has been our goal. Last year it was good for us to get that experience, but this year we're experienced so I think it should do better this year. I think we know what to expect now. We're still going to be a little nervous. I mean, we can't overlook Dixie; they're a great team and we know that, even though we've beaten them twice this year (by scores of 40-30 and 42-40). They still could surprise us so we've still got to go out and play our game."That's what we play basketball for is for these state games," she said. "That's why we go to practice every day and work so hard is for this (championship) game."Haley Bodnar, the Thunder's 6-foot-3 junior center and season-long leading scorer, managed just four points in Friday's game against Snow Canyon, but she swatted away nine enemy shots, pulled down eight rebounds and swiped two steals on the defensive end of the floor. Whitni Atkin added seven points and Emily Seifert chipped in with seven boards and a couple of steals for Desert Hills."All season long, she's made it possible for us to pressure a little bit more on the perimeter and take some chances," Desert Hills coach Chris Allred said of Bodnar's towering presence, "because if they get past our guards, they have to run into her. So she alters a lot of shots and blocks a lot of shots, and a lot of times that leads to us getting some transition baskets."
The Thunder's defense was definitely the difference-maker in this game. Snow Canyon shot just 18 percent (9 of 50) from the field, and the Warriors' star guard Amy Harris — who had 20 points in last year's championship-game victory — managed 10 points this time, but struggled through a rough 2-of-23 shooting day from the field. Harris also had six rebounds."We're the No. 1 scoring defense in the state," Allred said, "so we do take a lot of pride and we work really hard on our defense. And for two years now, the girls have bought into being a defensive team. It's not real glamorous, but they take great pride in playing good defense and keeping teams from scoring and making it tough for 'em.
"That second half, more than anything, we were just focusing on not allowing them to get any easy looks and easy baskets. I got a little bit concerned down the stretch there when they started attacking the basket and we put 'em on the free-throw line a few times. But I felt like as long as we could keep that eight- to nine-point lead, then even if we were trading baskets I felt pretty good about it.
"But they made it difficult for us to execute some of our sets; they pushed us off the block a little bit; they double-teamed Haley. So we were having kind of a rough go and down the stretch it was a little chaotic. But we hung on and found a way to win," he said. Grace Walton and Madie Gubler added seven points apiece for Snow Canyon (17-7), the third-place team from Region 9. It will face region rival Cedar in today's third-place game at 1:15 p.m.Desert Hills led just 5-3 after the first quarter, but Bliss fueled a 7-0 second-quarter spurt that helped the Thunder open up a 17-9 halftime lead. Desert Hills extended its lead to 26-14 at the third stop, and despite missing eight fourth-quarter free throws, the Thunder never led by less than seven the rest of the way."See these gray hairs? I didn't have half these before today," Allred said of his team's shaky 10-of-18 foul shooting in the final period. "We're a pretty good free-throw shooting team when we have to make them. I knew that if they had to keep fouling us that we'd make some shots."It's good to get back to the championship game again; we just don't want to finish second back-to-back. We're hoping. We're hoping ..."Hoping that their unfinished business gets done the right way — with a glorious state title victory — this time.

Even though this season didn't end or turn out the way I hoped or was planning on I still am so proud of my team mates. I loved every second spent with them. Whether it was battling on the court, laughing off the court, or the dance parties we had in the locker room before games. I have learned so many life lesson throughout my years with Coach Jensen. He is an amazing man, and by far my favorite Coach. I will never forget him. Also Coach Kelsch, Coach Matua, Coach Baggaley, and Coach Rerrick have been great examples to me as well. These girls will always be my team mates, and my best friends. Also my family has always been there supporting me. Through the ups and downs. I am so grateful for them and also for my grandparents who have been with me every step of the way.


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