Girls 3A State Tournament: Snow Canyon advances to semis with smiles and bruises

Snow Canyon vs. Richfield, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Snow Canyon had a little state tournament jitters, but survived anyway in a 55-49 defeat of Richfield in the state quarterfinal in SUU’s Centrum Arena Thursday afternoon.

The Lady Warriors put away a pesky Richfield team that never seemed to go away.

snow-canyon-logorichfield-logo“We beat them earlier in the year,” said Warrior assistant coach Ryan Rarick. “We know what they do and vice versa. It was a game of constantly making adjustments.”

Initially, it looked like a blowout in the making with Snow Canyon shooting to a 16-3 early lead. Shaylee Reed scored eight of those points including six from the line. Mada Mooring’s 3-point play with 1:49 showing in the first quarter gave the Lady Warriors a 13-point lead.

Snow Canyon's Nikenna Durante (11), Snow Canyon vs. Richfield, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Nikenna Durante (11), Snow Canyon vs. Richfield, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Richfield responded. The Wildcats scored the last five points of the quarter and then opened the second with a 14-2 run. With 2:58 on the clock, the Lady Wildcats had taken their first lead, 22-20.

“They were very physical,” said Rarick. “We got pushed around and they were getting a lot of second chances.”

Mooring, perhaps sensing the game getting out of control, took over. The senior point guard scored seven of the last nine points for the Warriors, including a 3-point play. When the half ended Snow Canyon had once again built a four-point advantage, 29-25.

“Coach told us at halftime that we had to match their physicality,” said Warrior guard Nikenna Durante. “Stay with our block-outs and be aggressive.”

Snow Canyon's Shaylee Reed (5), Snow Canyon vs. Richfield, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Shaylee Reed (5), Snow Canyon vs. Richfield, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Richfield closed the short gap and actually took a 37-35 lead with 1:38 remaining in the third. It would be their last lead of the game. Mooring tied the game with two free throws. Reed then completed a three-point play. Natalie Coulam’s drive and pull-up gave Snow Canyon the same lead it had at halftime, 42-38.

After Richfield pulled to within one point in the fourth quarter, 44-43, the Lady Warriors went on an 8-0 run to all but seal the game. Coach Dan Roden had his team open up the floor and run clock.

Eventually Richfield was forced to foul and the Snow Canyon hit its free throws. The physical nature of the contest did mete out some bruises. Durante got a bloody nose and Mooring had to leave after a collision led to a bruised back. Durante drew a lot of contact going to the basket in the second half.

“Lanes opened up for me,” said Durante. “This was a game where I could not spot up and just take threes. They aggressively closed out on us.”

Snow Canyon held on and won the game 55-49. They hit 91 percent of their free throws (29 of 32). Shaylee Reed led the team with a career-high 21 points. She hit all 15 of her free throws. Mooring added 16.

Snow Canyon improves to 22-2 and will play Pine View in the semifinals at 4:10 p.m. at SUU.

With the loss, Richfield moves to 13-9  and will play Morgan at 9:30 a.m. in the consolation bracket.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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