Girls 3A State Tournament: Lady Reds beat buzzer, burn Carbon in semifinals

CEDAR CITY – Patience is a virtue and Cedar’s Lady Reds showed the ultimate patience in rallying to a 54-53 win over Carbon Friday evening in the 3A State Semifinals at SUU’s Centrum Arena.

cedar-logocarbon-smJessica Whetman made a layup with 1.6 seconds left to provide the winning points on a nice dish from Dream Weaver. Both teams had missed free throws in the final 20 seconds of the game.

Cedar’s free shots came from star point guard Courtney Morley with 9.6 seconds to play. Surprisingly, both charity shots rattled out, but Weaver secured the offensive rebound for Cedar and dribbled out of traffic. Keeping her dribble alive, she then penetrated into the lane. As the defense collapsed and the clock dwindled, Weaver delivered a nifty pass to Whetman, who was all alone under the basket. She banked the layup home for the win.

Cedar's  Dream Weaver (00), Cedar vs. Carbon, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Cedar’s Dream Weaver (00), Cedar vs. Carbon, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“These girls want it, that’s what I love about them,” Cedar coach John Elison said. “They were fighting like crazy down the whole game.”

Cedar had played well early in the game, though the Lady Dinos tied it at 12 with a free throw to end the first quarter. It was still tight at 16-14 when Carbon went on a 6-0 run late in the first half. That gave the Dinos a 22-14 lead just before intermission.

A late 3-pointer by Cedar closed it to 22-17 at the break, but Carbon opened the second half with four quick points to push the lead to 26-17 with 6:30 to go in the third.

That’s when the Cedar rally began.

Morley hit a couple of baskets in the lane and Weaver scored as part of a 12-6 run to pull Cedar within 32-29. It was 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter, but by the four-minute mark of the final period, the Lady Reds had tied it at 45 on another Morley shot in the lane.

The game stayed tight for the next three minutes, but back-to-back scores by Carbon’s Kelsey Sorensen and Morgan Hillam gave the Dinos a 51-47 lead with 1:03 to play.

Again Morley came through. Dragging a defender through the lane, she somehow lifted a shot onto the rim from about 10 feet out. The ball spun on the front rim and settled into the net as a foul was called. Morley’s free throw made it 51-50 with 44.5 seconds left.

After a Carbon turnover, Whetman was fouled and converted two free throws to give Cedar its first lead since the first quarter at 52-51 with 35.6 seconds to play.

Cedar's  Morgan Myers (32), Cedar vs. Carbon, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Cedar’s Morgan Myers (32), Cedar vs. Carbon, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Six seconds later, Sorensen caught a pass over the Cedar full-court press and laid the ball in for a 53-52 Dinos lead. The Lady Reds turned the ball over with 19 seconds left, but Carbon missed both free throws, setting up Morley and Weaver in the final exciting sequence of the game.

“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.”

Morley had 18 points in leading the tense comeback, while Whetman finished with 12. Weaver, on her 16th birthday, had five points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The Lady Reds, 20-5, will battle region rival Snow Canyon at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for the 3A State Championship. The two teams split a pair of games in the regular season. The Warriors won at home 56-53 on Jan. 12 and Cedar won on its home court 51-48 on Jan. 28. Cedar has won 11 in a row.

Sorensen led Carbon with 16. The Dinos, 22-3, will play for third place against Pine View at 9 a.m. at Canyon View High School.

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

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