Logan senior Amber Kartchner has been one of the best and most consistent players in Utah over the past four years, earning Deseret News first team all-state honors her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.
This year she’s got her sights set on a loftier goal, a state championship.
Kartchner played at a different level in Tuesday’s 4A semifinals at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 38 points in leading No. 5 seed Logan to the 71-68 overtime win over top seed Pine View.
Kartchner scored 21 points in the first half as the Grizzlies raced to a 21-point lead, and then when overtime became necessary after Pine View fought all the way back with a dominant third quarter, Kartchner then scored eight of her team’s nine points in overtime.
That included the go-ahead three-point play with 45 seconds left in overtime which put the Grizzlies up for good 69-68.
“She started the game off hot, and then everybody just fed off of it and followed her steps and knocked down shots and did what we needed to do,” said Logan coach Morganne Madsen.
With the victory, Logan advances to Wednesday’s state championship at noon against region rival Sky View with a chance to win its first girls basketball state title in school history.
“It’s pretty awesome, our group has never made it there the four years I’ve been there, so I know we’re all super excited to play,” said Kartchner.
Win or lose, Kartchner will reach a significant career milestone on Wednesday. With her 38 points Tuesday she moved up to eighth on the state’s all-time scoring list at 1,690 points. She’s only seven points behind Lexi Eaton (2007-2001) and eight points behind Michelle Harrison (2002-2006), and should easily pass them to finish her career as the sixth-leading scorer in state history.
A big reason for her continued success is poise under pressure.
“I’m never really stressed during the games, I’m just like what can I do to help my team win,” said Kartchner.
In overtime, it was getting buckets especially after Pine View’s Alex Olson opened with her fifth 3-pointer of the game giving her team the 65-62 lead — its largest of the game.
Kartchner scored on back-to-back possessions to put the Grizzlies back in front 66-65, to which Pine View responded with three straight points of its own for the 68-66 lead. Logan’s superstar responded yet again with a driving layup and plus one-free throw regaining the 69-68 lead.
Kartchner extended the lead to 70-68 making 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds left, and then Logan’s defense got a big stop on a difficult layup attempt in the final seconds to secure the win.
“We’ve always kind of been looked (on) as the underdogs and we’ve always had to go out and prove ourselves. It’s huge to finally have the game experience to back it up,” said Madsen. “I’m just super proud of my girls. Finding their composure, coming together even though it was a grind.”
The first half was far from a grind for Logan though. It raced to the 41-22 lead shooting 52% from the field and knocked down seven 3-pointers.
Madsen said her team did everything right in the first half: “Lockdown defense, we rebounded well and we were really aggressive on offense.”
Part of that defense was making things as difficult as possible on Pine View post player Averi Papa, who still scored 25 points in the loss.
As expected, Pine View had plenty of fight left in it and erased the entire 19-point halftime deficit in the third quarter.
Olson was the catalyst to the 28-point third quarter for Pine View, scoring 10 of her 20 points in the quarter including a pair of 3-pointers.
In the fourth quarter there were three ties and two lead changes. Logan had a chance to win it from the free throw line with 2.8 seconds left but it missed both free throws.
Madsen quickly lifted her players spirits up after seeing a chance to win it slip away.
“I’ve seen them make free throws hundreds of times in practice. I’ve seen them make the plays and execute well, and I just said they have to go do the little things that they know they can do and I have all the confidence in the world in them,” said Madsen.