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High school girls basketball: North Sevier defeats Kanab to secure berth in 2A state championship

SHARE High school girls basketball: North Sevier defeats Kanab to secure berth in 2A state championship

RICHFIELD — A couple of trends have begun to emerge for North Sevier in the 2A girls basketball tournament. The Wolves continue to win, the ultimate goal after all. Most recently the Wolves defeated the Kanab Cowboys 69-55 Friday afternoon at the Sevier Valley Center. The victory secured a return to the state championship game, which had been on the minds of Wolves players and coaches all season.

Peyton Torgerson continues to make her case for 2A MVP, as the senior finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. In addition to Torgerson, Hailey Higgs also lit up the scoreboard, finishing with 19 points while Savanna Loncar added 11.

And still, the Wolves aren’t clicking on all cylinders — at least not yet.

In its past two tournament games, North Sevier, the 2015-2016 runner-up, has been able to build commanding leads, only to watch its opponents chip away enough to make the Wolves sweat at the end.

“If I had to admit (why this is happening) I’d have to say it is fatigue,” North Sevier coach Lexa Larsen said. “We kind of ran through our region this year, and our starters, aside from games against Emery, haven’t played a full game since Christmas.”

As troubling as the trend to let up has been, the good news is twofold. First, the Wolves are finding ways to win, displaying the will that makes them a true title contender. Second, and perhaps most important, North Sevier has the potential to play even better, a fact that should terrify the opposition.

Friday’s semifinal match showed a glimpse of just how special the Wolves can be.

The first quarter was the Peyton Torgerson show. The senior was everywhere for her team, and whenever North Sevier needed a basket she delivered. Torgerson unveiled the whole offensive arsenal early on, including accurate 3-point shooting, Euro step layups and strong post play.

“Peyton is a once-in-a-lifetime kid,” said Larsen. “The leadership that she brings is special. It’s hard to teach someone to lead like that. Yes, she does a lot statistically, but it will be incredibly hard to replace her leadership.”

North Sevier needed everything it got from its star in the first frame, as Kanab proved more than adept at making 3-pointers. The Cowboys made three treys in the period, more than enough to put pressure on the Wolves' defense.

The Wolves put on a basketball clinic in the second period. Their ball movement was crisp and on point, leading to what seemed as though a constant stream of uncontested layups. Whenever the Cowboys managed to clog the paint, the Wolves countered with mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper.

On defense, North Sevier refused to let Kanab get any easy buckets inside, and as the Cowboys' outside shooting cooled down, the margin between the teams began to grow. Eventually the margin grew large enough that the Wolves went into halftime with a commanding 21 point lead.

Kanab made some clear adjustments at halftime, the most noticeable of which was a renewed commitment to a quicker pace. The Cowboys increased their defensive pressure, especially on the ball, and as a result caused a few North Sevier turnovers.

Enough turnovers that the Cowboys were able to trim the margin to 10 points with a little over two minutes remaining.

However, all the adjustments in the world couldn’t change the outcome. Peyton Torgerson and the Wolves made sure of that.

The senior guard made two free throws with just under two minutes remaining, and after a quick Kanab score, Mayci Torgerson added another free throw to extend the lead to 11.

The Cowboys refused to quit and Sidney McDonald’s bucket with a minute left cut the North Sevier lead to nine points, the first time since early in the second quarter that the margin was single digits.

The Wolves answered yet again with four Meisha Johnson free throws and with that North Sevier is headed back to the state championship game.

“I can’t even explain how long the year is. It is an accomplishment just to make it back to the championship game,” said Larsen. “We will just have to see what we can do this time.”

EMAIL: twood@deseretnews.com