No. 12 Skyridge 36, No. 4 Syracuse 33

A season of healing continues for the former 6A runner-up as the ultimate underdog No. 12 Skyridge advanced to the 6A semifinals with a gutsy 36-33 upset of No. 4 Syracuse Monday.

The Falcons’ season, which had already navigated multiple injuries, took an emotional turn last Friday when team manager Michael Pearson passed away. Players on Skyridge’s bench wore shirts bearing the words “Like Mike” in his honor.

“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Skyridge coach Shaylee Nielson said. “We’ve been through more than we can say…we’ve just been through the ringer.

“We’ve tried all year just to get them to believe in each other and in themselves. We just kept telling them all we care about is (the playoffs), and they did it. It wasn’t easy at all, but a group of teenagers, they’re some strong, strong kids.”

Skyridge senior guard Cambree Blackham scored a game-high 19 points playing in just her 11th game of the season, scoring over half of the Falcons’ points and netting 7 of their 13 made shots from the floor.

Skyridge’s defensive pressure on the Titans was unrelenting. Syracuse came into the game averaging over 58 points per game, but the Falcons forced 21 turnovers, many of them between halfcourt and the perimeter, and held the Titans to just 15 of 43 from the field, including just 6 of 24 in the second half.

“It’s been our backbone all year to just keep fighting,” Nielson said. “It doesn’t matter what happens, it’s just ‘next play’…We just had to keep finding a way.”

Despite the sluggish scoring on both ends, the game was anything but slow-paced. If anything, the faster pace is what Skyridge dictated to get what few easy baskets it could.

The Falcons forced transition opportunities with their backcourt speed using long passes to beat Syracuse’s transition defense to the hoop, a strategy borne of the clear indication in the second half that nothing else was going to work against the Titans.

“We worked a lot this week on just driving and getting kids diving to the basket,” Nielson said. “(Syracuse) kind of took away everything that we wanted to do, so in the end, it turned into ‘just make something happen,’ honestly. We were trying different stuff, but it just came down to kids making plays.”

Syracuse started the game on a 10-2 run and looked in control until the Falcons immediately answered back with a 10-0 run of their own to lead, 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Though the Titans trailed for most of the game, they tied it up at the end of the third quarter with a jumper from senior Camden King.

With neither team finding any consistent way to score, the fourth quarter turned into a battle between the only two players who could: Blackham and Syracuse senior forward Cortnie Barker.

The two players combined for 10 of the 11 points scored in the final period, but Blackham had the last word with two layups to push Skyridge past and take the lead for the final time.

The Falcons will face No. 1 Copper Hills in the semifinals.

No. 1 Copper Hills 49, No. 9 Mountain Ridge 31

For all of Copper Hills’ talent on the offensive end, that’s not what has made the Grizzlies a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

It’s more about what happens on the other end of the court.

It was never so clear as on Monday night when the Grizzlies held No. 9 Mountain Ridge to just eight point in the first half and cruised to the finish for a 49-31 victory to advance to the 6A semifinals against Skyridge with a defensive performance that even impressed head coach Jake Timpson.

Timpson yet remained measured in his praise, particularly in light of the Sentinels being able to hit shots with much greater ease in the second half.

“Our defense was amazing that first half,” Timpson said. “If we want to win anything in this tournament, that’s how we have to play defense.

“In the second half, things weren’t as tight. We weren’t as disciplined, and they got the line and got some easier shots, and we’ve got be better than that if we want to keep going.”

It was the usual suspects on both ends of the court for the Grizzlies as junior Skylie Barker led the way with 13 points while collecting a steal and five blocks, while senior Ellie Taylor added 10 points with five steals and four blocks.

Leaving very little time for the game to be in doubt, Barker nailed a 3-pointer for the first points of the game, initiating a quick 5-0 run.

Mountain Ridge didn’t make a shot from the field in the first quarter, and although Copper hills didn’t either after its initial scoring burst, the Grizzlies pushed out to a double-digit lead with a 7-0 run entirely on free throws.

Copper Hills then made a convincing lead a surefire one in the second quarter with an 8-0 run to go up 20-4.

Although the Sentinels got off on an 8-2 run in the second half, they never got any closer.

Mountain Ridge sophomore Jade Jangard was the only Sentinel in double figures for the game with 10 points. Senior go-to scorer Kya Newton went without a bucket in the second half and finished with just four points.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but the Grizzlies completely stuffed Mountain Ridge through the first 16 minutes, holding the Sentinels to just 3 of 22 (13.6%) from the field.

Mountain Ridge upped the clip to a meager 23.4% by game’s end but still had just two assists while committing 17 turnovers.

Even with the Grizzlies’ admirable defense, the offense left a lot to be desired, particularly late in a tournament run.

Copper Hills shot 16 of 46 from the field, just over 34%.

“Kind of what I expected when you come to an arena you’ve never played in,” Timpson said. “It’s harder for these shots to go in, but at least at the tournament, it’s your defense that carries you, and we’re a really good defensive team.”

No. 7 Corner Canyon 59, No. 2 Davis 56 (OT)

At a point in the second half of Monday’s 6A girls quarterfinal between Corner Canyon and Davis, Corner Canyon coach Craig Morris stood on the sideline yelling, “Active hands! Active hands!”

The underdog No. 7 Chargers clearly listened, forcing several key turnovers and collecting seven blocks as they handed No. 2 Davis a shocking upset in overtime, 59-56, to win the program’s first-ever game on the court of the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah.

“To come out in their first (game on a college court) and upset the No. 2 seed, it’s just unbelievable,” Morris said.

Corner Canyon trailed early in the game after a first quarter 11-0 Davis run capped by a 3-pointer by Kate Richards, but the Chargers whittled down the gap before halftime, and keyed by a 9-2 run, took a 22-20 lead into halftime.

Most of those baskets were generated off turnovers.

“We’re a team built on defense, and when we play together, we’re really hard to score against,” Morris said.

“I got goosebumps (because) there were a few possessions where my girls just got locked in on shutting down their two best girls and then had active hands in the passing lanes, and we got some easy buckets for us.”

Chargers senior guard Maia Rhay held the dual responsibility of being her team’s go-to scorer as well and anchoring its defensive pressure.

It’s safe to say she got an “A” on her imaginary report card as she nearly put up a triple-double with 23 points on 9 of 20 shooting and 10 rebounds to go with nine assists, five steals and four blocks.

Meanwhile, Davis’ top senior, Kendra Kitchen, had just four points in the first half, and most of Corner Canyon’s blocks were on her.

Davis finished with a team-high 17 points, but most of her production in the second half came from the mid-range, a key evidence that the Chargers’ defense was doing exactly what it wanted it wanted to do.

“When we talked about it before, we just said, ‘We don’t let anyone do what they want to do,’” Morris said. “We’re gonna make them do the things that they’re less comfortable doing, and the girls did it, and I’m just so proud of them.”

Kitchen did just enough to force overtime in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter with a game-tying layup, but once overtime started, it was all Chargers.

Rhay hit a layup on a back cut, then junior forward Brooke Luper hit her only make of the game from beyond the arc and Rhay then hit a turnaround midrange jumper while falling down to cap a game-sealing 7-0 run.

Senior Elina Mortensen had 13 points for Corner Canyon, and junior Addi Yeomans added another 12.

For Davis, senior T’maea Eteuati finished with 15 points, and senior Kate Richards added 13.

The Chargers will take on No. 3 Lone Peak in the semifinals.

No. 3 Lone Peak 59, No. 6 Westlake 50

In the final three minutes of Lone Peak’s 6A quarterfinal win over Westlake on Monday, senior Sarah Bartholomew almost single-handedly carried her team to the 59-50 win.

Between her momentum-swinging blocked shot, two key offensive rebounds and seven points down the stretch, the senior was absolutely clutch when it mattered most as she finished with a career-high 21 points to go along with her 10 rebounds.

“I think she really took that to heart and stepped up for us better, particularly in that fourth quarter,” said Lone Peak coach Nancy Warner, whose team advances to Wednesday’s semifinal at 4:40 p.m. against Corner Canyon

Without Bartholomew’s performance, the Knights’ quest for a 6A 3-peat might’ve ended prematurely.

Lone Peak led for all but 30 seconds in Monday’s game and really started to open things up in the third quarter to build a 50-35 lead heading into the fourth.

In the fourth though, things started to unravel quickly for Lone Peak. Aided by back-to-back 3-pointers from Chloe Jensen, as well as an uncharacteristic four straight turnovers for Lone Peak, Westlake ripped off a 13-1 run, cutting the lead to 51-48 with 4:01 remaining.

Warner fully expected Westlake to put up a great fight in the quarterfinal regardless of the fact her team won the two Region 3 meetings by 18 and 23 points.

“In the state tournament you’ve got to expect everyone’s best game and that’s exactly what Westlake was gonna give us, and we knew it and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be in this situation like that to really get tested like that,” said Warner.

Bartholomew could hear the crowd getting behind underdog Westlake as it quickly capitalized on Lone Peak’s miscues to cut the lead to three, and she was having none of it.

“In my mind I was like, ‘No this isn’t happening today. This is our game,’” she said.

Bartholomew helped wrestle momentum back for Lone Peak as she blocked a Westlake baseline jumper with 2:54 remaining that could’ve potentially tied the game.

At the other end she hit a jumper to push the lead to 53-48.

“It’s always a game of momentum swings and with the block, that’s a huge momentum swing,” said Bartholomew.

She wasn’t done. She scored on a rebound putback on Lone Peak’s next possession to extend the lead to 55-48, and two possessions later she did the exact same thing on another rebound putback, getting fouled in the process, and finishing off the 3-point play for the 58-50 lead with 1:00 remaining.

“Just love fighting and maybe not how we wanted it to go but it was a great fight and we always love games where we get to battle with them,” said Bartholomew, who believes the experience gained from some of her team’s tight games this year prepared her for those clutch moments.

To go along with Bartholomew’s career high, Shawnee Nordstrom added 16 points, with Naia Tanuvase adding 10.

Jensen led Westlake in the loss with 16 points, with Austyn Feller adding a dozen.