Taylorsville • Orem coach David Gilchrest was spot on in his assessment of his team’s free-throw shooting Tuesday night. The Tigers barely could throw the rock into the ocean from the beach.
But their struggles at the line didn’t diminish their bigger achievement — a 40-31 upset of Region 7 champion Skyline in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament at Salt Lake Community College.
“It was pretty nerve-racking, but I knew our team would come together in the end,” Orem guard Tatiana Monsen said.
The Tigers (15-7), who needed a victory in a play-in game against Woods Cross on Saturday to reach the field of 16, made just 19 of 39 free throws, including a near-disastrous 10 of 24 in the fourth quarter.
But Selesitila Tenney’s work on the offensive glass and the Tigers’ packed-in zone defense proved enough to stun the Eagles (15-7), who struggled from the floor and attempted just four free throws.
“If they were hot from the 3-point line, I don’t know what we would have done,” Gilchrest said. ”Tila Tenney set the tone early with a couple of baskets and some offensive rebounds, and that kind of got everybody excited. That settled everybody down and helped us out quite a bit.”
Skyline managed just one basket in the second quarter — a Mia Mortensen jumper at the 3-minute mark — and trailed 19-10 at halftime. Leading scorer Sydnee Taylor struggled with her shot and fouled out with 10 points.
Orem advanced to play Timpview in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Monsen scored six of her game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter as the battle-tested Tigers maintained the lead. Skyline got to within four points with 2:28 to go, but it scored just six points in the final period.
“We had a really tough region,” Monsen said. “We learned a lot about our team in there. Even though we played in, we feel like we’re a team that poses a threat. We were jumping the passing lanes and picking up where they were going.”