Taylorsville • East junior guard Margarita Satini dribbled across the midcourt line to the top of the key then performed a couple of ankle-breaking maneuvers late in the Class 5A girls’ basketball state championship Saturday.

Waiting for the pass was freshman Lealani Falatea, who already was smiling at Satini’s moves when she caught the ball.

“I was definitely smiling,” Falatea said. “I was very proud of my teammate right there.”

And the smiles kept coming.

East took a 68-48 victory to earn the school’s first state championship in girls’ hoops.

The Leopards jumped on Timpview from the start, scoring the first seven points, and East (23-2) extended the margin to 24 points in the second quarter.

“We knew that if we started the game off quick, the game would be ours,” said Lani Taliauli, who finished with 12 points. “It means everything to us. It’s all we worked for. Ever since the summer, spring. We had early morning practices. It was blood, sweat and tears for us.”

Timpview (20-5) was paced by 16 points apiece from Shalyn Fano and Ella Pope, and the Thunderbirds closed to within 14-11 on a shot by Jazzy Espinoza late in the first quarter.

But East (23-2) got 3-pointers from Satini before the period ended, and East then registered a 15-2 run to start the second. In all, it was a 21-2 stretch for the Leopards, who were led by Satini’s 17 points.

Lealani Falatea scored 12 while her older sister, junior Desarae Falatea, had 11 in the title game.

Satini scored seven points while both of the Falatea sisters tallied a pair of buckets during the run that established the big working-margin for the Leopards. Taliauli also was part of the scoring with a field goal as was reserve guard Blanche Pritchard.

“I was definitely surprised “by the run, East coach Junior Solovi said. “I thought the girls came out with extreme energy. I’m just proud of them.”

After Solovi trimmed the last part of the net off the goal, he admitted he wasn’t aware that this was East’s first girls’ basketball championship.

“I didn’t even know that until after the game. Didn’t know that at all, ” said Solovi, who had high praise for his opposing coach, Timpview’s Aimee Dorais. ”“We know that they were really well-coached. No offense to anybody else, but the two best coaches in 5A were Timpview and Skyline.”

East won only two games as recently as the 2014 season. Solovi came on board as the team’s coach last season and led the team to 13 wins.

East football coach Brandon Matich gave Solovi a hearty hug after Saturday’s title game. Solovi is as an assistant coach for the football team in the fall. He was quick to lavish praise on his own assistants.

“My coaches, they did this for no money,” Solovi said. “When we came in, a lot of us knew what we had to do to turn this thing around. They just love kids. We figured out the rest after that.

“We didn’t know too much basketball. But we knew we loved these guys. We knew we loved this group.”


• East wins its first state championship in girls’ basketball by scoring the first seven points of the game and establishing a 22-point lead in the second quarter.

• Margarita Satini leads East with 17 points and senior Lani Taliauli adds 12.

• Timpview gets 16 apiece from Shayln Fano and Ella Pope.