Girls 3A State Tournament: Lady Warriors outlast Cedar to capture 2016 crown

CEDAR CITY — Cedar’s Lady Reds led for about 27 of the 32 minutes in Saturday’s 3A Girls State Championship game. But as we all know, it’s not who led the most, but who led last, and Snow Canyon emerged with a 58-54 victory to capture the 2016 state title.

snow-canyon-logocedar-logoThe Lady Warriors last won state in 2012, when the current class of seniors were in eighth grade and coach Dan Roden was just an assistant.

“They are just a special group of girls,” Roden said. “They believe in each other. They love each other. They trust us, which is awesome. They never stopped. They never quit. They believed that it would happen. They knew they would come back.”

Snow Canyon's  Madison Mooring (21), Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Madison Mooring (21), Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Shaylee Reed, one of those seniors, scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Mada Mooring, battling the flu and a couple of deep bruises, scored 16 points and dished out four assists to help Snow Canyon surge to the win.

“That was crazy,” Reed said. “Some parts of the game I got a little nervous. I never lost hope, but I got a little nervous. I knew we could do it because we’ve come from behind before. We’ve played together ever since sixth grade and this has been our main goal.  It’s everything that we’ve been working toward. We are seniors. It’s our very last time playing together so we just wanted to give our all.”

SC led for all of 16 seconds in the first 3 1/2 quarters of the game. Mooring’s 3-point play in the lane with 3:46 left gave the Warriors the lead back at 47-44. Cedar immediately erased the lead with their star, Courtney Morley, getting her own 3-point play 20 seconds later on an offensive rebound and foul.

That started an 8-1 run that saw the Lady Reds push their own lead out to 52-48 with 2:15 to go.

But Snow Canyon responded with its own run of seven straight over the next few moments. Reed cut it to 52-50 on a runner in the lane with 1:57 to go. After a Cedar miss, Roden called timeout with 1:10 on the clock to set up a play. Mooring came out of the timeout and whipped a pass to Nikenna Durante on the baseline. The SC guard swished a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 53-52 with 1:08 to play.

“The play was actually a layup inside, but Cedar covered it really well,” Roden said. “But Mada found her in the corner and Nikenna, she drilled it. It was her only basket of the game, but she drilled it.”

Snow Canyon's  Shaylee Reed (5), Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Shaylee Reed (5), Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After another Cedar miss, Mooring was fouled and hit two shots to make it 55-52 with 37.9 seconds left. A Carley Davis spinner in the lane cut it to 55-54 with 22.8 to play and Cedar quickly fouled Mooring. She left the door open by missing one of two and Cedar had a chance, down two with 15.7 left in the game.

Cedar coach John Elison used a timeout to set up a play, but the Lady Reds threw the ball away with eight seconds left. Reed then hit two clutch free throws with 6.1 seconds left to give the Warriors their biggest lead of the game and the final margin of the game.

“At the free throw line, I was praying,” Reed said. “Heavenly Father, please, please, please. That’s what I kept saying. I was praying. It was all Heavenly Father.”

Mooring, who left the game momentarily after a hard foul, as she had in Friday’s semifinal, played most of the game despite battling the flu. She said she was utterly drained by the end of the game.

“It took every single ounce, everything I had in my body,” Mooring said. “I had to give it all. I am so drained right now because I gave everything. My teammates are so amazing and I couldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have won without them and I just love them so much.”

Although Cedar led most of the game, the advantage never got more than six points. The halftime score was 26-20, but Snow Canyon had cut the deficit to 39-38 at the end of the third.

“It was just trust, trust and resilience,” Roden said. “They’ve done it all year. They’ve never panicked. They’ve never doubted. I’m so happy for the girls. It’s all about them.”

Snow Canyon's  Madison Mooring (21) cuts down the net after winning the state championship, Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Madison Mooring (21) cuts down the net after winning the state championship, Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Reed and Mooring were the only Warrior players to shoot free throws, but that was a good thing for Snow Canyon. Reed made 13 of 15 and Mooring hit 6 of 9, totaling 19 for 24 in the game (79.2 percent).

This was the third meeting of the year between the two teams, with SC taking two of three. The total point differential in the three games was four points.

Snow Canyon, 23-4, was 17-39 from the floor (43.6 percent) and made 5 of 8 3-pointers, including 2 for 2 by Sydney Bott and 2 for 3 by Mooring.

Cedar ends the year 20-6. Morley had 17 points, with Davis and Jessica Whetman scoring 12 each. The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Lady Reds.

Stats: Snow Canyon 58, Cedar 54

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