TAYLORSVILLE — It was a textbook example of how to pull off an upset in a state basketball tournament.
When Snow Canyon knocked off favored Sky View 59-52 in the 4A quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon, the Warriors jumped out to an early lead to put pressure on the Bobcats, played the game at their pace, withstood runs, and then made free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Snow Canyon advances to the 4A semifinals for the third straight year where it will play Springville at 5:30 today. The Warriors have now won 14 straight games, and they avenged a 16-point loss to Sky View back in December.
"No one expects anything out of us because we had started the season off pretty rough," said Snow Canyon floor general Liz Ricks. "We came in and knew we could do it. Respect everyone and fear no one is our motto."
A lesser team may have had some fear in it when it saw the size differential between the Bobcats and Warriors. Scrappy Snow Canyon didn't have the height to bang with Sky View in the paint, so the Warriors took control of the game by hitting shots from the outside.
The Warriors went on an 18-0 run in the first quarter. Ricks hit two 3-pointers during the spurt and freshman Amy Harris drained one. Sky View seemed to press because of the early deficit, trying to match the Warriors from the outside, and couldn't.
"It was probably the best first quarter we've had all year," said Snow Canyon coach Wade Jensen. "We shot the ball well. We can shoot the ball well, we just haven't consistently (this season)."
The 18-0 run gave Snow Canyon an 18-5 lead, and the Warriors never faced any real danger of losing their grip on the game. The Bobcats got within five points six times during the second half, but Snow Canyon — usually Ricks — made key plays to prevent them from getting closer.
"We know Sky View," Jensen said. "They score a lot of points and we did not want to get in a running match with them. We wanted to control the tempo that fit our style and I think we did."
The Warriors were able to put the game away by making free throws. They shot 13-for-19 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Harris made six straight during a key stretch with less than two minutes left in the game.
Ricks and Harris each scored 15 points to lead Snow Canyon. Ricks also had seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Rachel Wade chipped in 10 points, and Kylie Moore had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Sky View's Amy Andrus capped a stellar high school career with 25 points and 13 rebounds in the defeat. The Bobcats were hurt when guard Nicole Hansen, who drained three 3-pointers in the first half, suffered a leg injury midway through the third quarter and didn't return.
Snow Canyon is in the final four for the third straight year and hopes to have better results this time. The Warriors lost to Mountain View last season and to Sky View two years ago, each by double digits.
"We're excited," Ricks said. "We all know what it takes and we know how it feels to lose and it's terrible. Hopefully we can win."