St. George • The Emery Spartans and Richfield Wildcats were bonded by a common thread heading into Saturday’s Class 3A girls’ basketball state title game.
See, both teams fell short and took home state runner-up trophies one year ago.
Megan Jensen made sure the Spartans would leave Burns Arena with the championship trophy the second time around.
The junior scored eight of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter as Emery came from behind to beat Richfield 41-36 and win its first state crown since 2011.
“We were all working together and we stayed positive,” the 6-foot-2 Jensen said. “We’ve been down before and knew how to come back.”
Richfield led its Region 15 rival by eight at the half and extended the advantage to 25-16 early in the third quarter after Madison Roberts hit a 3-pointer. Senior Emma Jones added a triple of her own later in the period for the Wildcats, but the lead was only 30-25 as the fourth quarter began.
Jensen got inside for a hoop and completed a three-point play to start the fourth quarter, just like she did in the first period. Kacelynn Toomer followed with two free throws that pulled Emery even at 30-30, the second and last tie of the night.
Jones countered with another 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats the lead again, but another inside hoop from Jensen ignited an 11-0 run that clinched the crown for the Spartans.
“We’re the type of team that if we don’t get to the rim, it’s tough for us to get going,” Emery coach Lynn Tuttle said. “We played their type of game tonight, kind of a slow slugfest.”
Emery overcame a Richfield defense that had held its three tournament opponents under 30 points each time.
Jensen provided two of the biggest knockout punches in the closing run. She saw through a double-team and found an open Morgan Hurdsman, who drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left, then came through with a key offensive rebound after Hurdsman missed a free throw to preserve another Emery possession.
The Spartans (25-1) completed the winning run with four free throws.
Richfield (22-3) shot just one free throw that was made by Jones on the game’s opening possession.
EMERY 41, RICHFIELD 36
• Emery wins its first state title since 2011.
• Richfield allows an opponent to score more than 30 points for the first time in the state tournament.
• Megan Jensen leads Emery with 25 points.