Cedar head John Elison emerged from the winning locker room with tear stained eyes and still catching his breath.
“Pinch me,” Elison said. “Is this a dream?”
It wasn’t. But it was made possible because of one.
Cedar sophomore Dream Weaver pulled off a miracle.
With nine seconds remaining, and the Lady Reds down by one, Weaver grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. She dribbled the ball out with a swarm of Carbon defenders frantically chasing her. Weaver, knowing she couldn’t get the shot up herself, looked up and saw Jessica Whetman all alone under the basket.
With time running out, the sophomore made a perfect pass to Whetman, who quickly shot the ball off the window and into the hoop just before the buzzer sounded to give Cedar a 54-53 semifinal win over Carbon.
“I just ended up there,” Whetman said. “I have no idea how I got there. And then Dream just finding me and getting that rebound. It was just a perfect setup.”
As impressive and timely as the pass and game-winning layup were, it was the rebound that saved the game. And, based how the contest had gone, that seemed like it would be the hardest thing to get.
Cedar had struggled all night trying to get rebounds against the Dinos. Carbon was simply bigger and longer than the Lady Reds and were able to control the paint.
“I feel like it was 6-1 on rebounds all night,” Elison said. “I don’t know how she did it. It’s her birthday; that’s probably why.”
Some birthday wishes do come true.
The heart-pounding finish was an appropriate ending to a game where each team played the entire fourth quarter like it was the final possession. Every made basket was well-earned, having to fight through traps and a sea of arms.
The Carbon defense was suffocating, not giving up driving lanes or any space on the perimeter. The Dinos gave up just five points to the Lady Reds in the second quarter, but despite all that, Cedar entered the final quarter down by just four, 35-31.
And when the Lady Reds needed some offense late, Courtney Morley made it happen.
Using everything from runners, banked 3’s and hard drives — not to mention setting up teammates all over the court — Morley willed Cedar into a position to win the game late, scoring 10 of her team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.
“About three minutes to go she said, ‘Give me the ball,” Elison said. “She did a lot of work in there. That’s a great senior.”
And it was Morley who drew a foul with 10 seconds remaining and Cedar down by one, 53-52. Her first free throw hit every part of the rim before rolling out. Her second fell right into the arms of Weaver and the rest is Cedar history.
“I didn’t even know we had won the game when it ended,” Whetman said. “I thought we were behind and so I was trying not to cry.Then I looked up and saw it was 54-53, and I was like ‘Oh, my gosh, we won.” And it was the best feeling ever.”
Cedar will face Snow Canyon for the 3A championship at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter, @millerjryan.