Well before his team took the floor for its most important game of the season, Cedar coach John Elison got word of an email message Wednesday from his counterpart at Uintah High.
It asked a pretty important question. With the 3A state playoffs on the horizon, where would the Utes be able to make their travel plans?
The Lady Reds sent their answer in emphatic fashion and claimed a piece of the Region 9 championship in the process.
Freshman Courtney Morley led three players in double figures with 17 points as Cedar hit nine 3-pointers and led from start to finish for a 56-52 victory over Snow Canyon to finish the season with a 10-2 record. The Lady Reds shared first place with Desert Hills, who closed with a 65-24 rout over Pine View on Wednesday.
“I aged 15 years, I’m sure,” Elison said. “I got nervous after a couple of turnovers. Credit the girls for fighting hard. We called the timeout and I told the girls ‘go get ’em. This is your game. Go fight.'”
Cedar (17-4 overall) had built its lead to 42-29 early in the third quarter — its largest of the game — but behind the shooting of BYU-bound senior Amy Harris, the Warriors (9-3, 15-6) didn’t go away quietly.
The Lady Reds led 49-40 as the fourth quarter began, but Harris hit a pair of 3-pointers — an and-1 and one from long distance — to cut the lead to 53-50 with 2:59 left.
That’s when the scoreboard stood still for a while. There were missed jumpers, turnovers, and missed chances on both sides before Madison Alger (10 points) stepped to the free-throw line and nailed two with 21.7 seconds left to build the lead to five.
Harris, who led all scorers with 22 points, followed with a jumper to keep Snow Canyon in one-possession range, but senior Jessica Nakken stepped to the line and hit an all-important free throw with 9.3 seconds on the clock that completed the scoring.
When the Warriors’ final shot didn’t fall, a burst of cheering and hugs flowed all around from the Cedar High players and shouts of “region champs” could be heard from the locker room.
“I’ve shot that shot so many times, I knew it was going to go in,” Nakken said. “We needed one, and it worked out.
“We knew the offense would come. We just had to focus on our defense.”
Cedar’s defense was good from the start, and with Davis dialed in early, it left Snow Canyon scrambling. The Warriors fell behind 7-0 in the first four minutes, and when Davis hit her third 3-pointer of the opening quarter, the Lady Reds finished with a 16-9 lead.
“It wasn’t too rough,” said Davis, who had 11 of her 13 points in the first eight minutes. “We let our guard down a little, but we had to pick it up and stay patient. Whoever we play in the playoffs, we’ll be ready.”
In the second quarter, Morley took over the workload, scoring eight of her 17 points in the period as Cedar kept up the pace. Her 3-pointer in the closing seconds gave the Lady Reds a 31-23 lead heading to the locker room.
“If my shot’s on, just keep shooting,” Morley said. “Just like Coach says. That’s how we’re supposed to play.”
The Warriors got only one field goal from Harris in the second quarter, but stayed close by shooting 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.
With the win, Cedar will participate in a coin flip with Desert Hills today at 9 a.m. to determine the top two seeds for the 3A playoffs. The winner will host Uintah on Saturday, and the loser will play at home against Wasatch.
Snow Canyon fell to the No. 3 seed from Region 9 and will travel to play Judge Memorial, the No. 2 seed from Region 10. Megan Leavitt was the only other Warrior player in double figures with 12 points.
HURRICANE 57, CANYON VIEW
42: Brooklyn Gubler scored 29 points and the Tigers pulled away in the second half to beat the Falcons at home Wednesday.
Hurricane (3-9 Region 9, 8-13 overall) outscored Canyon View 19-7 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. The Falcons (3-9, 10-13) were led by Tayzha Blackner’s 10 points.