Taylorsville • Billy Joel once wrote a song that best describes East’s style of basketball.
The Leopards were relentless from the opening seconds as they earned an impressive 72-65 victory over Corner Canyon Saturday night at Salt Lake Community College and won their second straight Class 5A girls’ basketball title.
But the Chargers also showed they could dish out pressure as well as they rallied in the second half in an intense battle that saw both teams press all over the court.
Led by sisters Deserae and Lealani Falatea, Margarita Satini, Lina Tausinga and center Precious Faamausili, the Leopards deployed a defense that put pressure on a good Corner Canyon team from the game’s opening seconds.
Even with Division 1 players Jaeden Vaifanua and Kemery Martin on the floor, the Chargers just couldn’t cope with that constant pressure, though it wasn’t as if they didn’t try.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said East coach Olossa Solovi. “I was extremely proud of our girls that they didn’t give up the lead. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Led by Vaifanua’s 32 points and 14 rebounds, Corner Canyon fought back from a 16-point deficit to tie the game at 50 early in the fourth quarter.
But East wouldn’t fold as the Leopards got key free throws from Faamausili and Lealani Falatea down the stretch as the Chargers cut the lead to 65-62 with 1:34 to play.
“It was intense,” said Falatea, who finished with 18 points. “I’m not going to lie. … I practice free throws after every game in game situations.”
Margarita Satini led East with 21 points before fouling out, while Faamausili contributed 12 rebounds and Deserae Falatea added 15 points.
“That second half, Corner Canyon came out and tried to put us away,” said Satini. “We knew we had to come out stronger and lay down the hammer on them.”
Solovi praised the community for its support.
“These guys have overcome a lot,” he said. “I am, so proud of these girls, their parents and the community. It was a little rough at times during the season but they stuck with us.”
• Margarita Satini scores 21 points and sisters Deserae and Lealani Falatea hit double figures for East.
• Corner Canyon’s Jaeden Vaifanua finishes her stellar career with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while Kemery Martin scores 23.
• Precious Faamausili contributes 12 rebounds for East, which finished the season with a 23-4 record.