Fremont pulls away in second half to win 6A girls’ championship

Silverwolves top Herriman 63-43 after trailing by a point at the half.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fremont's Maggie Mendelson reaches for a loose ball while facing Herriman in the 6A girls basketball state championship game, in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Taylorsville • Fremont High senior Emma Calvert lined up a 3-pointer from the top of the key just before the third quarter ended. The ball barely hit the rim as it went through the basket.

As Calvert, a BYU commit, ran back on defense, a smile appeared on her face.

“I knew it was a big 3,” Calvert said.

The shot gave the Silverwolves a 13-point lead on the way out of a third quarter during which they didn’t allow the Herriman Mustangs to make one field goal. At that point, only eight minutes stood between Fremont and destiny.

Fremont took the 6A girls’ state basketball championship with a 63-43 victory over the Mustangs on Saturday in Bruin Arena at Salt Lake Community College’s Redwood Campus. Fremont also won the state title in 2018.

Calvert scored a game-high 30 points, added 12 rebounds and went 16 for 17 from the free throw line. Sophomore Margaret Mendelson had 15 points and 14 rebounds.

This season’s Silverwolves were anchored by three highly recruited girls who all stand at least 6-foot-3, and many on the roster have played together in some capacity since they were very young.

“We’ve been working our whole lives for this,” senior Halle Duft said. “We’re all family. We’re sisters. We’ve built such an amazing relationship, and it’s so incredible to win it with these girls that I call my family.”

From the jump ball, it was evident that Fremont had the size, but Herriman had the speed. Fremont had the more sophisticated sets, but Herriman had the hustle. But the first half was a grind, and the Mustangs led 24-23 after forcing eight turnovers and scoring seven points off them. They had six steals in the opening 16 minutes and didn’t turn the ball over once.

“We went into the halftime and were just really fierce and fired up, ready to go, because we were down at halftime,” Calvert said. “So we were just ready to come back and take it to them. I don’t know if they knew what hit them in the third quarter.”

It was the third quarter where Fremont pulled away, aided significantly by Herriman’s fouling. The Mustangs committed nine fouls in the quarter, and the Silverwolves took a one-point deficit and turned it into a 13-point lead.

Fremont coach Lisa Dalebout said she made a defensive adjustment at halftime.

“We went to a zone to try to make them more of a jump-shooting team,” Dalebout said. “We really thought to ourselves, ‘We can’t keep getting beat to the basket.’ We just kind of locked down and make them outside shooters — which they’re really good at, but it’s hard to be good this long in the season.”

Herriman guard Lealani Falata led the Mustangs with 15 points and and shot 4 of 10 from the 3-point line. Mary-Tessa Pan shot 6 of 10 from the field and scored 13 points.

Fremont lost in last season’s 6A title game to Bingham High. The loss motivated them all season and the Silverwolves were able to avenge it by beating Bingham in the semifinal round of this year’s tournament.

The Silverwolves finished the 2020-21 season with an undefeated 26-0 record.

“This has been a 356-day process for them,” Dalebout said. “They just literally since last year’s heartache have poured their souls into this.”