Taylorsville • As South Sevier’s Cassie Johnson thought about the little floater she hit with three seconds to play that gave her team a wild 47-46 victory over Judge Memorial and the Class 3A state girls’ basketball title Saturday night, she came to an interesting conclusion.
“It was the power of my team, the friendship and the bonding that helped that ball go in,” she said. “This has always been a dream. It means everything.”
The two classy teams, one a private school from the big city and the other from tiny Monroe in central Utah, may not have played perfect basketball. But they participated in a dramatic fourth quarter test of wills and emotions.
• South Sevier’sCassie Johnson’s floater with just under three seconds left secures the 3A state title. The Rams get 16 points and 14 rebounds from Presley Chappell.
• Teya Sidberry has 13 points and 12 rebounds while Mia Tarver and Abbey Storms lead a fourth quarter Judge comeback that fell just short.
• Judge hits only 5-of 19 free throws, including three misses in the final minutes.
Judge trailed most of the way, falling behind by 10 points late in the third. But the hustling Bulldogs caught fire in the fourth behind the play of Teya Sidberry, Mia Tarver and Abbey Storms and took their first lead.
With less than a minute to play, Judge was the aggressor and held a 46-42 lead.
But the Bulldogs struggled with free-throw shooting all night, hitting just five of 19, and missed three late, including the front end of two bonus situations.
That’s all top-seeded South Sevier, which finished 24-1 and won its first title since 2008, needed.
Kenzie Jones hit the Rams’ only 3-pointier of the night to cut the lead to one. Then a wild sequence occurred. Judge missed the front end of a one-and-one, got the offensive rebound, and missed a close shot that would have been the clincher.
South Sevier set up and got Johnson’s clinching floater with too little time left for Judge to get a decent shot off.
“I didn’t know we could come back,” said Rams coach Stewart Hepworth. “They were the more aggressive team and had all the momentum. These girls have believed all year they were going to win. They’ve had several games like this where they have been down and came back to win it in the end. The kids never doubted.”
South Sevier was in a position to win due to Presley Chappell’s play in the post. She finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“This means everything to them,” said Hepworth. “They will never forget this. They will have a lifetime to remember that fourth quarter play. That’s exactly what happened. They will remember this forever.’
Judge coach Josh Pike lamented the miss opportunities but loved the way his team fought back.
“We are a fighting team,” he said. “We have more heart than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life.”