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High school girls basketball: No. 1 Fremont toughens up in second half, marches past Skyridge in 6A semifinals

Leading by two at the half, Fremont pulled away from Skyridge with a dominant offensive and defensive second half

Fremont players celebrate a 3-pointer in a 6A girls basketball semifinal game against Skyridge at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.
Fremont players celebrate a 3-pointer in a 6A girls basketball semifinal game against Skyridge at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Fremont’s Timea Gardiner summed up her coach’s halftime chat pretty simply: “She basically chewed us out.”

Fremont’s players knew Skyridge was a great 3-point shooting team, but nonetheless they didn’t defend the perimeter very aggressively in the first half of Friday’s 6A semifinal. The Falcons happily took advantage with eight 3s in the first half as they only trailed No. 1 Fremont by two at the break.

“(She) told us we needed to buck up and play how we usually play,” said Gardiner about Lisa Dalebout’s halftime instruction.

Fremont did exactly that in the third quarter, opening with an 11-0 run and then withstanding another push from Skyridge before pulling away for the comfortable 71-55 victory at the Huntsman Center.

After Skyridge made 8 of 20 3-pointers in the first half, Fremont limited it to just 2 of 8 shooting in the second half.

“We defended harder,” said Dalebout about her halftime talk. “I really feel like we had more urgency, and I challenged them. I did not feel like they executed the game plan as far as what we were intending to do to their shooters. I thought they played a little soft to be honest in the first half.”

With the win, Fremont advances to Saturday’s 6A state championship at 6:30 p.m.

Gardiner led the way for Fremont with 17 points, with Emma Calvert adding a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The duo helped Fremont dominate the paint with a 30-14 edge in scoring.

That interior dominance helped the Silverwolves race to 23-12 edge at the end of the first quarter. Skyridge’s press started to speed up the game in the second quarter, forcing Fremont into five turnovers.

Offensively the Falcons started slinging 3s in the second quarter, with 18 of their 20 points coming from beyond the arc. Ally Blackham made three-straight 3-pointers during one stretch in the second quarter, finishing the game leading all scorers with 21 points.

Kylee Holland made two 3-pointers in the second quarters as well, with Skyridge only trailing 34-32 at the half.

In the second half, Fremont protected the ball with more urgency against Skyridge’s press and then got after it defensively around the perimeter.

“I feel like the second half they were more aggressive, and they took care of the ball and squared up and did the fundamentals a little better,” said Dalebout.

Despite Fremont’s hot start in the third, Skyridge settled down and closed the quarter on a 12-5 run and only trailed 50-44.

That’s when Fremont started to hit some dagger 3s of its own. Daycee Townsend, Mia Austin and Halle Duft all buried shots behind the arc in the fourth as the Silverwolves pulled away comfortably to advance to the championship a year after losing in the 6A semifinals.

“I loved it. We were due to kind of start shooting a little bit better from the perimeter. We had some big shots from all different players. That was fun and it was neat to see them step up and hit a shot,” said Dalebout.

Fremont finished the game shooting 56% from field and enjoyed a 36-16 edge in rebounding.