Richfield • Millard guard Payton Miller didn’t have to watch her arcing 3-point shot to know it was going in. She had a straight sightline to her team’s bench as she flicked her wrist and watched her teammates leap from their seats shouting.
Miller had tied the game as the buzzer signaled the end of the third quarter.
“I looked at my team and knew that after that, every single one of our players was going to have that energy and step it up,” she said. “And I knew that we had it.”
The Eagles went on to beat Enterprise 47-41 in the Class 2A girls’ basketball state championship game Saturday at the Sevier Valley Center. They claimed the program’s first state title propelled by Miller’s clutch triples and Eagles guard Kynlee Penney’s team-leading 16 points.
Miller’s game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was her second of the night. A second-quarter shot from beyond the arc knotted the score at 13-13.
The first brought the Eagles back after slipping five points behind the Wolves. The second sparked a 22-point fourth quarter for Millard.
“I knew it was going in as soon as it left her hand,” Penney said. “I felt so happy. Our team got this momentum, and right there we were like, ‘We’re going to win this.’”
Eagles coach Melanie Bassett’s message after the third quarter was similar to the one at halftime: This is all that’s left of the season.
“It’s just eight minutes,” she said. “You’ve just got to focus, you’ve got to bear down. Do it. Play your game and have fun.”
Penney, who scored 23 and 28 points in the state quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, bounced back from an eight-point first half to score eight more points alone in the last quarter.
The Eagles regained possession in the last seconds of the game with a six-point lead, and they were met by their teammates storming the court to celebrate their victory as time expired.
“You’re going to make me cry again,” Miller said when she was asked about that moment. “We’ve worked so hard and this has been our goal from the beginning. And knowing that the dream that we’ve all been pushing for came true, it’s a feeling I’ve never had before. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Jessica Holt paced Enterprise with 16 points, and Ronnie Robinson drained a team-high two 3-pointers.
MILLARD 47, ENTERPRISE 41
• Millard wins its first girls’ basketball state title.
• Millard guard Kynlee Penney lead the team with 16 points.
• Jessica Holt paces Enterprise with 16 points.