Taylorsville • East found itself in a difficult position for the second day in a row, the victim of its own success.
The Leopards again had built a large halftime lead then had to fight against their aggressive, attacking instincts and find a way to make the final 16 minutes fall off the scoreboard.
They did just that Saturday to claim the first girls’ basketball state title in school history with an emphatic 68-48 victory against Timpview. The experience of nearly squandering a big lead to rival Highland less than 24 hours earlier made the difference Saturday.
“We told them to stay poised, stay focused. We didn’t want another game like [Friday],” East senior captain Liana Kaitu’u said. “We came out together and finished the game. It took a minute to get used to it and get into it, but working with these girls, they did a good job and we finished strong.”
A tentative East team watched a 19-point third-quarter lead dwindle to two points in Friday’s semifinal.
It was a 22-point halftime advantage Saturday. Timpview scored the first six points after halftime and forced three East turnovers in the first three minutes after the Leopards committed just two turnovers in the first half.
This time, though, there was no panic, no tentative approach.
“We just came out strong like we did in the first half and finished the game,” said East point guard Rita Satini, whose layup ended Timpview’s mini run and seemed to settle the Leopards in for the duration.
East returned to its full-court pressure, sparked by Satini, who had a game-high 17 points. Her steal and layup was followed by a big block by senior captain Lani Taliauli early in the fourth quarter — an indication East wasn’t about to led Timpview get in the way of its historic win.
“We just finished,” Taliauli said. “This means everything to us. We are really happy.”