Box Score

Experience and defensive pressure won out at the 4A State Championships at Dixie State’s Burns Arena Wednesday afternoon.

Desert Hills survived a double-overtime thriller to upset top-seeded Ridgeline 58-55 and earn the title of champion.

“I told my team to keep their chins up and that our experience would win out in the end,” Thunder coach Ron Denos said. “Experience and defense — those were the keys for us.”

Ridgeline led by 10 at the half, but the Lady Thunder slowly chipped away and took their first lead late in regulation. The game went back and forth, with the Thunder mainly scoring from the line and the Riverhawks taking it inside.

A key moment came early in the first overtime when Ridgeline star Emilee Skinner fouled out. The Hawks turned to Macie Brown and the sophomore responded by scoring a pair of field goals and a pair of free throws in the extra frames.

Skinner, who averages more than 18 points a game, scored 17 before being disqualified.

“I knew she would get her points, but I was just trying to make it hard on her by keeping her out of the middle,” said DH guard Enid Vaifanua. “She’s a great player.”

Desert Hills looked dead in the water at halftime, down 25-15. But the Thunder got it to 33-29 by the end of the third quarter, Sa’de Turlington led the charge, along with Vaifanua and Julia Jacobsen.

“Our seniors were amazing,” Denos said. “Ridgeline is very talented, but we really thought our experience would be the difference in this one.”

Vaifanua, who finished with 16 points and four steals, made 9 of 12 fere throws in the game. Desert Hills as a team was 22-for-32.

“I just kept trying to envision the ball going through the hoop,” Vaifanua said. “There’s a lot of pressure, but I tried to stay calm.”

In the second OT, the Thunder jumped out to a three-point lead twice. RIdgeline didn’t go for a trey, but u=instead drove to the hole and then tried the fouling tactic. 

Turlington was fouled with five seconds left and three-point DHHS lkead. She missed both free throws, but Jacobsen collected the offensive rebound on the second miss and was able to run out the clock, sparking the celebration.

Jacobsen had blocked a potential game-winning trey by Ridgeline in the first overtime.

The Thunder finish 19-4, while Ridgeline ends up 23-2 on the season. All of RIdgeline’s starters are underclassmen.

Deseret News 4A Girls All-Tournament Team

MVP — Sa’de Turlington, Desert Hills

Alivia Cluff, Desert Hills

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Enid Vaifanua, Desert Hills

Emilee Skinner, Ridgeline

Elise Livingston, Ridgeline

Marren McKenna, Green Canyon

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