|Lady Spartans basketball team pose with their second place trophy at the Utah High School Athletics Association 3-A state championship in Ogden on Saturday.|
Man it was close! In fact it was so close that you could almost taste it. The Emery High Lady Spartans were less than a minute away from the 3-A State championship when their dream started to escape. Emery was leading the number one ranked Canyon View Falcons by 4 points and had the ball in their possession when the Falcons pulled off a miracle. Canyon View scored 4 points in that final minute versus none for Emery and the game went into overtime.
In that overtime Canyon View scored 3 points versus only a single basket by Emery's Rachel Rasmussen and the dream died on a wild last second shot taken by Camille Fehlberg from the corner. Emery lost 38-37.
Emery started the week with a game on Thursday against the Pine View Panthers, a team that had embarrassed the Spartans with a loss in December in St. George. Emery easily got revenge. They won the game in a blowout this time 68-43.
The word for the day was steals and that was what the Lady Spartans did with one steal after another. Thirty seconds into the game, Pine View called time out as they were down 6-0 and could not even get the ball to half court. Emery so harassed the Panther point guard that along with 15 steals by the Spartans, they also threw the ball away another 10 times in the game.
Behind Alexis Swasey's 8 first quarter points, Emery took the early lead at 17-8. Emery then allowed Pine View to hang around in the second quarter as they outscored Emery 17-15.
Emery put the Panthers away with a 20-4 third quarter as Emery did everything right and did not allow their opponent to do anything. Emery had almost a 30-point lead before the subs went into the game to close it out.
Leading scorers in the game were Alexis with 15 points, Jodie Lundell with 12 points and Camille with 11 points. Also scoring were Rachel with 7 points, Meagan Pearson and Shala Pitchforth with 6 points, Ashley Hansen with 5 points, Callie Seeley with 4 points and Tahna Merrell with 2 points.
On Friday, the Spartans played Morgan. Morgan has been in the last three championship games and are considered a top-notch program. Emery got out to the early lead as Ashley scored 9 points in the opening quarter. Pressure defense again allowed the Spartans to take control of the game from the outset. Emery had 14 more steals in this game plus they caused 8 more Trojan turnovers. Emery scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters while Morgan scored 16 points in each of those quarters.
Morgan started the second period on a 7-3 run to jump back into the game but Emery responded with an 8-0 run to lead 32-23. After Emery led 57-45 at the end of the third period, Morgan cut the deficit to 59-54 before Emery closed out the game on an 8-5 run to win 67-59.
|Lady Spartans play defense in the championship game against Canyon View from Cedar City. Jodie Lundell, Camille Fehlberg, Rachel Rasmussen, Ashley Hansen, and Alexis Swasey on the floor for the Spartans.|
Camille led the Spartans with 22 points including hitting 15 of 16 free throws. Camille also had 8 assists, 7 steals and 5 rebounds.
Jodie scored 21 points, as she was 5 for 8 from behind the 3-point line. Jodie also had 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Ashley finished the game with 13 points. Alexis, Shala and Rachel also scored in the game.
On Saturday the Spartans were slow getting out the starting gate, as they were tentative on both offense and defense. It appeared that the players were a little awed about being there in the championship game. Canyon View led 8-4 after the first quarter. Emery hit only 1 of 6 shots in that period, collected only 3 rebounds and had only 2 steals.
The second period was not much better as they hit only 3 of 12 shots and trailed 19-10 at the half. Both teams played very deliberate offense and this is not Emery's type of game. As a team you have got to do those things that got you here and this style was not Emery. You cannot be tentative to get back into the game, you must be assertive.
Emery got back into the game by being more effective in the third quarter. Emery hit 6 of 11 shots while holding Canyon View to 2 of 9. Emery now trailed 27-25. Emery scored 10 of the first 14 points in the final period to grab that lead that they then let slip away. The Spartans only had 2 turnovers in that final period but they were huge. In a game with very few fouls being called, the Spartans were snake bit as those turnovers turned into the Falcons last four points.
Should fouls have been called, probably. Camille was double teamed and stripped of the ball right and it appeared that she was mugged on the play but no call was made.
In overtime, again it appeared that Camille was knocked to the ground twice and no fouls were called. I understand not wanting someone to win a game because of a referee's call but I also understand that if somebody fouls in order to steal the ball, then that foul should be called. Nobody should have an unfair advantage.
Camille led the team in scoring with 14 points. Rachel had 9 points, Ashley had 8 points, Shala had 4 points and Alexis finished with 2 points.
Congratulations should be given to this team as they gave us all a season that was enjoyable, exciting and pleasurable. This team was the early season favorite before their star player went down for what we thought would be the year. Natalee Hanson's knee injury may have hurt the team at first but then every other player stepped up their efforts to fill the gap and they did a really good job. Natalee did return for a few games and contributed to the team.
She may not have contributed much in statistics but she led the players in team spirit and determination. This team won 20 ball games with a style a Salt Lake newspaper called "fun and gun."
Thanks Lady Spartans, you made my day. You may not have won the game but you are all champions in my book.