Different player, different night.
That’s kind of been the mantra for Sky View’s girls basketball team all season, and that balance proved to be the difference again in Wednesday’s 4A state championship at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
“I just think we worked super well as a team. We’ve been working all year on finding open shots and I felt like we found the open girl and got the good looks that we needed,” said Radford, who led Sky View with 14 points including a pair of 3-pointers.
In Sky View’s four playoff wins over the past week, three different players led the team in scoring. That balance allowed the Bobcats to stay patient offensively throughout the game and find the good looks, which showed as they shot 48% from the field.
“It’s good to know you’ve got girls on your team that can rise up in those moments,” said Sky View coach Vanessa Hall. “The thing I love about this team, they’re so balanced. They play as a team, they play together and it shows.”
For Logan, it was much more of a grind offensively against Sky View’s tenacious defense. Even though Logan struggled, shooting just 37%, it scrapped all game and never wilted even when Sky View seemed poised to run away with the win on two different occasions.
The latter came early in the fourth quarter as Sky View used an 10-0 spurt to push its lead to 51-41 midway through the quarter. Smart and Radford drained 3-pointers during the critical stretch for the Bobcats.
Down 10 and with just one team foul, Logan started to take some defensive risks. It eventually regained possession with under two minutes remaining, and Izabelle Rudd’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 51-44 with 1:17 remaining. The Grizzlies continued to chip away, and with clutch 3-pointers by Taylor Rose and Amber Kartchner over the final minute, they cut the lead to 55-52 with 20 seconds remaining.
Over that same stretch Sky View made just 4 of 7 free throws which continued to give Logan a lifeline for a comeback.
Despite what seemed like insurmountable odds down 10 with 90 seconds left, Logan’s persistence put itself in position to try and tie the game late when it was fouled on a 3-pointer attempt with 7.9 seconds remaining. It made two of those free throws, cutting the deficit to 55-54.
Logan fouled quickly to put Sky View back on the line. Macy Hellstern only made 1 of 2 free throws for Sky View, but the Bobcats grabbed the offensive rebound — their third on a missed free throw in the final two minutes — which was critical in securing the win.
The pressure throughout the game was tense for both teams, but Hall said both teams were ready for it after a great Region 11 season.
“This atmosphere, yes it’s different, but at the same time this is what we’ve been preparing for, we’ve seen this and I think that helped tremendously,” said Hall.
“I told them at the end of the game, every ladder we ran was for this moment, every layup that you made in practice was for this moment. Every minute you spent in the gym was for this moment. They worked so hard, and I know that every team does, and unfortunately there’s only one team that ends at the top, but the fact they worked so hard it’s for this moment and it’s worth it.”
In Sky View’s semifinal win over Desert Hills on Tuesday, it struggled offensively throughout the first half, but that wasn’t a problem in the championship.
Shots were dropping early as the Bobcats built a 17-5 lead late in the first quarter. Logan chipped away in the second , but Sky View still led 27-20 at the break.
Kartchner only had seven points at the half for Logan.
“The fact that we were able to contain her for a half is huge” said Hall.
Kartchner started to catch fire in the second half, including three third-quarter 3-pointers that helped Logan tie the game at 39-39, the first tie of the game.
The Logan senior — who finished her career as the sixth-leading scorer in state history with 1,717 career points — scored seven more points in the fourth quarter to give her team a chance. She finished with a game-high 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting, with Rose chipping in with 15 points for the Grizzlies.
Deseret News 4A All-Tournament Team
MVP — Amber Kartchner, Logan
Hannah Radford, Sky View
Macy Hellstern, Sky View
Averi Papa, Pine View
Alex Olson, Pine View
Shailee Bundy, Desert Hills