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High school girls basketball: Cassie Johnson hits game-winning shot to lift South Sevier to first girls basketball championship in 12 years

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South Sevier beats Judge Memorial during the 3A girls championship basketball game at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

TAYLORSVILLE — With three seconds left in the 3A championship game, down by one point, Cassie Johnson held the ball in her hands, then hoisted a shot that would decide if South Sevier would celebrate on the court as champions or take the long bus ride back to Monroe as the second-place team, so close but yet so far. 

“I was just praying it would go in,” South Sevier head coach Stuart Hepworth said.

Johnson’s shot dropped through the net, and three seconds later — after forcing a Judge turnover — South Sevier was the best in the classification, beating the Bulldogs 47-46 and winning its first girls basketball championship in 12 years.

“I think just the power of my team and their friendship and their bond really helped that ball go in,” Johnson said. “This means everything. It’s always been a dream of mine.”

Judge led by four points late in the fourth quarter after a basket from Marika Collins and a free throw by Teya Sidberry, but South Sevier wasn’t done yet. Kenzie Jones hit a 3-pointer to bring the Rams within one point.

“They (Judge) were the more aggressive team and they had all the momentum,” Hepworth said. “These girls believed all year long that they were going to win and they’ve had several games like this where they’ve been down and they’ve found a way to come back and win in the end and they did it again. They’re just awesome kids who’ve never doubted, never surrendered.”

“I just kept depending on us and knew that we could just power through,” Johnson said. “No doubt.”

After getting a defensive stop, South Sevier had time for one more play to win the game. Johnson caught a pass and shot the game-winning shot from the left side of the court, which dropped through the net. 

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South Sevier 47, Judge 46


Leading scorers
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South Sevier: Presley Chappell, 16

Judge: Teya Sidberry, 13

“We wanted to attack the basket and look to penetrate. All of them were looking to penetrate and drive and get to the basket,” Hepworth said. “That’s all it was — one kid looking to make a play.”

Presley Chappell led South Sevier with 16 points and 14 rebounds, with Johnson adding 12 points and Jones chipping in eight points. Sidberry led the Bulldogs with 13 points and Abbey Storms and Emily Malouf scored nine points each.

South Sevier opened the game on a 7-2 run, setting the tone for the contest. Leah Torgersen was influential early on in the run, scoring three points, while Chappell scored her first field goal of the contest at the three-minute mark of the first period. 

Sidberry, who is the centerpiece of Judge’s team and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and hit the game-winning 3-pointer on Friday to send the Bulldogs to the championship, was taken out of her game in the first half for the second straight contest. Sidberry scored Judge’s first four points of the contest, the latter basket coming with 1:20 left in the first quarter, but then was held scoreless until less than a minute remaining in the second period. The Rams put pressure on Sidberry, oftentimes double-teaming her. Sidberry took the majority of the shots for Judge and was 3 of 10 with six points in the first half. 

The Rams outscored the Bulldogs 11-6 in the first quarter, but Judge had a better second period as the Bulldogs battled to a 10-10 second quarter to go to the locker room tailing 21-16. Judge missed eight free throws in the first half, but it kept itself in the game to prevent the Rams from pulling away before halftime. South Sevier went to their big, Chappell, as she totaled 10 points in the first half.

  • Watch replay: South Sevier 47, Judge Memorial 46

Judge made its comeback in the late third quarter and early fourth quarter. With South Sevier up 31-23, Judge made a quick 6-0 run with points from Malouf, Collins and Sidberry to make it a two-point game. 

The two teams battled back and forth in the fourth quarter, with the Bulldogs going on a 9-0 run early in the period to build a four-point lead. Judge responded to every South Sevier basket before the Rams made their 5-0 run to end the game.

For South Sevier, Feb. 22 is a night that the Rams’ players and coaches will never forget.

“They’ve been dreaming about this forever, so for them to get it, it’s everything to them. They’ll never forget this. I told them, ‘Four quarters to play, a lifetime to remember,” Hepworth said. “That’s what matters to me most, that these kids can take that home and take it forever with them.”

Deseret News 3A girls all-tournament team

MVP — Cassie Johnson, South Sevier

Teya Sidberry, Judge

Maison White, Grantsville

Presley Chappell, South Sevier

Marika Collins, Judge

Sipola Vakautakakala, Richfield