OGDEN — Pine View finally realized a moment that the girls’ basketball team has been dreaming about for a long time. The Panthers are headed to the 4A championship game against Cedar with a 53-41 win over Desert Hills.
“We just spent a few minutes trying to describe what this moment feels like and it put a lot of us in tears. How far we’ve come as a team in one year as a program, it’s hard to put into words,” Pine View head coach Ben Luce said. “By earning it, they’ve deserved another shot at this and they’ve just kept getting better and better every game. They’ve been coachable and tonight, defensively, they’ve proved that we’ve gotten better defensively, too.”
Pine View’s semifinal opponent was Desert Hills, a team that the Panthers had lost to twice before this season. In the semifinals, the third time was the charm.
Luce praised the defensive execution for his team as being the difference in the third matchup, along with the offensive execution for his team.
“Our defensive execution. There was always times in our first two games where we stopped executing on offense and then they’d go on a five, six, eight-point run. We’re always battling back and forth. When we came in at halftime with the lead and then pushed that out in the third quarter, it really pinned our ears back and instead of playing from behind with desperation we played with a lot of urgency with a 10-point lead,” Luce said.
Ellie Wilson led Pine View with 14 points, four rebounds and two steals.
“Ellie is a senior and she has been great this year,” Luce said. “She’s done exceptionally well, especially with her confidence in shooting and taking it to the basket. She’s gotten a lot better with that over the years and she’s learning to magnify what she’s really good at and huder her weaknesses.”
Averi Papa chipped in 13 points and 13 rebounds, Alyson Schmitt had eight points and Madysen Jensen had six points. Sa’de Turlington had 14 points for Desert Hills.
The major difference in Friday’s fierce matchup was the third quarter. At halftime, Pine View led 26-20, but knew that Desert Hills wasn’t going to roll over. To win the game, the Panthers would have to continue their stellar play in the first half and come out strong in the third quarter.
Pine View did just that, putting together one of its most dominant quarters this tournament, outscoring Desert Hills 19-9 in the third period and running away with the game.
“We hit some shots. They scored nine points in the third quarter and that was our goal, about 10 points per quarter. We got our in transition a little bit and beat them. When we finally started secruing rebounds, we got some layups in transition and then we knocked down some 3-point shots to help push it out,” Luce said.
Now, just one win away from hoisting the 4A state championship trophy, Luce has seen a progression over the course of the season for the No. 7-seeded Panthers
“We have confidence in the girls and that’s what we’ve preached. We tried to say as positive as we possibly could. It took a while and they slowly started to believe in what we were saying and believe in themselves,” Luce said.