The 2A girls basketball state championship matchup is now set after the semifinals took place at Salt Lake Community College on Friday.

Top-seeded Beaver took home the victory in the opening game, pulling through late over Draper APA, while Kanab used a late surge to defeat North Summit in the second semifinal. 

Beaver 60, Draper APA 51

After Beaver watched Draper APA sophomore Aaliyah Baldwin drop 40 points in the Eagles’ quarterfinal victory over North Sevier, they knew they’d have their hands full in Friday’s semifinal game. 

If they wanted to play for a championship, they had to keep her and the rest of the Eagles at bay.

It wasn’t a comfortable game for them by any means, but the Beavers used a strong start and an even stronger finish to secure a 60-51 semifinal victory and book their spot in the 2A title game. Beaver limited the Draper APA duo of Aaliyah Baldwin and Samantha Kartchner (who had been averaging over 39 combined points per game) to seven points below their average.

Beaver started strong, leading by as many as 13 points in the first half thanks to a 12-2 run midway through the second period. The Beavers were shooting the ball well from distance and were managing to slow the Eagles’ offense down. 

“That good start was key,” said Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall. “It really gave us the space we needed for when they made a run at us.”

And make a run the Eagles did. After trailing for the entirety of the game, Draper APA rallied to tie the game at 46 with just 4:18 remaining in the game. 

Momentum seemed to be on the side of the Eagles, but the whole complexion of the game changed with 3:33 remaining, when Beaver’s Kenzie Carter drew a charge on Baldwin, fouling her out of the contest.

Baldwin, who finished with a game-high 24 points, was the catalyst for the Eagles’ comeback. But with her warming the bench, things quickly started trending upward for Beaver. 

Marshall admitted that fouling Baldwin out was probably the only way his team could’ve stopped her. 

To make matters worse for the Eagles, Kartchner fouled out as well less than a minute after Baldwin did. From that point on, Beaver executed well on offense and locked things down on defense, outscoring Draper APA 9-3 over the final three minutes of play to clinch victory.

“We were able to outlast them,” Marshall said. “They got into their foul trouble, which obviously hurt them down the stretch, but we still had to keep scoring. We hung around and got it done. Credit to Draper, they hit their shots and never quit.”

Beaver received contributions from all over the rotation, as four players scored over 10 points — all of them hitting crucial shots early in the game or down the stretch. Tawni Eyre (16 points) and Gentry Brown (14 points) led the way for the Beavers, who buried eight 3-pointers in the game. 

Marshall praised the balance his team possess, calling them the best shooting team he’s had in years.  

“That’s how we’ve been all year,” Marshall said. “We’re not a one or two person team. We feel like all five players on the floor can score and do great things. ... Traditionally we haven’t been a team that shoots it lights out, but this year’s team has the ability to go out and score 60 points in any given game.”

Marshall mentioned that his team is prone to offensive lulls, and that they’d need to play a consistent 32 minutes if the players hope to lift the championship trophy on Saturday. 

Though he didn’t know who his team would face in the championship game at the time, Marshall guaranteed that the title game would be a dogfight. 

Kanab 51, North Summit 42

With the scores knotted after three quarters, the winner of the second 2A semifinal of the day came down to one quarter. Whichever team had the better eight minutes of basketball would secure a chance to play for a title. 

Though it trailed for most of the game, taking its first lead of the game with 52 seconds left in the third quarter, Kanab managed to put together its best basketball of the night during the game’s final minutes. The Cowboys held North Summit scoreless for just under four and a half minutes in the fourth quarter — scoring 10 points of their own during that same span — to secure a 51-42 victory and a spot in the 2A title game. 

Kanab coach Klint Glover said the dominant stretch of play simply came down to effort.

“They were out there just playing hard,” Glover said. “They showed a lot of heart there. We’re a younger team, so we haven’t been able to spend as much time refining defense as we’d like, but the girls have started to pick things up the past two or three weeks.”

During the dominant stretch, Kanab’s Taylor Janes made a layup through a foul and went to the line for a chance at a three-point play. Taylor missed the free throw, but Kanab Freshman Rylee Little secured the offensive board, leading to the ball eventually being kicked out for a made 3-pointer.

The five-point possession resulted in the game’s largest momentum swing — something that the Braves were unable to recover from. 

Little led the way for the Cowboys, scoring a team-high 16 points, while Anna Cutler (13 points) and Ashlyn Houston (11 points) each delivered consistent contributions on the offensive end. 

The strong play down the stretch guaranteed Kanab a chance to take on Beaver — a team it beat just over two weeks ago — in the state championship game. 

Though the game will obviously be the biggest of the season, Glover said that it will be business as usual for the Cowboys, who’ll focus on enjoying the moment. 

“(Beaver) won one and we won one, so it’ll be a great grudge match for both of us,” Glover said. “We’re so young, we can’t feel a bunch of pressure. We’ll make sure our girls enjoy (the game), play hard, play smart and have fun.”