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High school girls basketball: Preparation, calm allow junior Fremont guard to hit game-winning free throw over Lone Peak in 5A quarterfinals

TAYLORSVILLE — Before Wednesday’s 5A quarterfinal game, Fremont guard Melanie Graves visualized various scenarios.

In one of them, she imagined herself shooting game-winning free throws. She said that’s part of the reason she was prepared for what happened in the final seconds of Fremont’s 55-54 win over Lone Peak at Salt Lake Community College.

“I didn’t feel nervous,” said Graves, who finished with 10 points in the victory. “I ran through game scenarios in my head before the game and free throws was one of the scenarios I did.”

Graves was fouled with 1.3 seconds left on the clock and the scored tied at 54-54. She missed the first free throw and her coach Lisa Dalebout called a timeout.

“We didn’t really even talk about the free throw,” Dalebout said. “I felt like sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to ice your kid or not, but I felt like, in that moment, I’ve never done that before, but I felt like we just needed to talk about the scenarios after the ball went through the hoop, that we were going to get back on D, and we weren’t going to get a foul. I kind of worried about panicking a little bit and not realizing time.”

Graves said the timeout didn’t really make a difference in her mental preparation. She’d already let go of the miss.

“I just knew I needed to follow through with my rhythm,” she said. “Just put it in for my team. It was a team effort. ... I just knew, ‘That’s over. Just put the next one in.’”

The foul-line finish was a dramatic end to a fast-pace thrill ride that featured some of the best basketball of the tournament. After the first half, the defending state champions looked poised to pull away from the third-seeded Knights.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever been that stressed in my whole living life,” Dalebout said. “I’ve coached a lot of basketball games. They did things that really made us struggle sometimes defensively, and they have really good players. And shots weren’t falling for us. ... We said this last game, but hopefully we can get it figured out.”

In the first half, Fremont had 15 offensive boards. They finished the game with 25 offensive rebounds and 49 total. Lone Peak, on the other hand, had the bulk of its 39 rebounds in the second half, with 28 coming in the third and fourth quarters.

“The second half they did a much better job on us,” Dalebout said. “We didn’t get as many opportunities in the second half.”

Fremont's Harley Hansen, who led all scorers with 23 points and six rebounds, said it was a wild ride.

“It was crazy,” she said, grinning. “It was intense. It was really fun.”

Of the rebounding struggles late in the game, the junior guard said, “I think we got a little tired. We started to crash (the boards) better at the end of the game.”

The Silver Wolves had stretches where they made it impossible for the Knights to do anything in the paint. As a team they had 10 blocked shots, with Rylee Thompson earning a team-high four blocks, while Maryah Tipping added three blocks. Kaycee Andersen led the rebounding effort with 11, while Thompson finished with 10.

Kelsey McCann, who will play for UVU next year, led Lone Peak with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Savannah Flanary and Aubrey Wilson each added 12 points in the loss.

Dalebout said Wednesday’s game was indicative of the type of season it’s been. “This is just a really interesting year,” the coach said. “You almost can’t pull away from anybody. Everybody kind of claws and fights, and it feels like this year there are a lot of good defensive teams. I don’t feel like we’re scoring as many points as we have in the past. ... I think that’s a credit to really good coaches and really good defenses and preparation.”

Senior Shelby Molen, who signed with BYU, only scored two points, but was key in the team’s defense and passing game. She said that while the game was intense, it was familiar to the Silver Wolves.

“We’ve been in this position before where we’ve lost momentum,” Molen said. “We knew we could get it back. We just had to stay together as a team. We did a good job of staying together and staying calm, even though it was hectic and scary there at the end.”

She expects more of the same when Fremont meets American Fork in Friday’s 5A semifinals at 5:50 p.m.

“They’re really well-coached, too,” Dalebout said. “American Fork has a rich tradition. They know how to win in the state tournament.

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