Kanab girls topple top-seeded Beaver to win state 2A basketball title

Kanab players and coaches celebrate after defeating Beaver in the girls 2A state championship basketball game, Taylorsville, Utah, Feb. 25, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Andrea Gilberg, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Kanab Cowboys won their second straight girls basketball state championship on Saturday evening, coming from behind to upset top-seeded Beaver, 39-34.

A Kanab player helps cut down the nets after winning 2A girls basketball state championship, Taylorsville, Utah, Feb. 25, 2023 | Photo by Kay Richards for St. George News

After Beaver tied the game 34-34 with a minute and a half to play, Kanab scored the final five points of the game to claim the victory.

The 2A tournament was staged Thursday through Saturday at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville.

The Beavers controlled the game during the first half, leading 17-9 after one quarter and 22-15 at halftime. Freshman guard Danzee Bradshaw made 18 of Beaver’s first-half points, with Gentry Brown making the other four.

Early in the third quarter, just after the Beavers had extended their lead to 10 points, 27-17, the Cowboys went on a 9-0 run to get within one point at the end of the third, 27-26. Junior Ashlyn Houston scored eight of Kanab’s nine points during that run.

Kanab head coach Klint Glover said Houston’s efforts helped get the Cowboys back in the game.

“We were having a hard time making a basket all night,” Glover told St. George News. “You kind of lose your enthusiasm for defense and rebounding when you can’t make the basket. But she kind of got us back in the saddle there, and sparked some effort.”

Beaver’s Bradshaw was held to four points in the second half, finishing with 22. But her last basket was a big one, a driving inside shot that tied the game 34-34 with 1:30 remaining.

However, Cutler answered on Kanab’s next possession, draining a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 37-34. She later added a pair of free throws to push the Cowboys’ lead to five with 21 seconds left, which ended up being the final margin.

Anna Cutler of Kanab takes a shot against Beaver in the 2A state championship game, Taylorsville, Utah, Feb. 25, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Jeremy Houston (jeremyhouston.net), St. George News

Houston finished with 13 points for Kanab, while Cutler added 11. Savannah Bateman added nine points, and Rylee Little added six points and seven rebounds. And while sophomore center Taylor Janes didn’t score, she grabbed seven rebounds and was a strong defensive presence inside, her coach noted.

“She’s capable of scoring,” Glover said of Janes. “She just didn’t didn’t last night, but she played some good defense for us and got a lot of rebounds, especially at the end when we had to kind of hold them off.”

The Beavers were led by Bradhsaw’s 22 points, with Brown adding seven.

Both teams finished the season with overall records of 22-3.

“We’ve been down in a few games this year” Glover said. “We’ve only lost three games, I think by a total of maybe six points or so. But even the games we’ve been down in, they just keep trying. We’re a young team, lots of learning going on. I just appreciate that all the girls just keep trying. They don’t get down on themselves. They get determined and have a little grit. They just kept playing, even though it wasn’t perfect.”

Earlier in the tournament, the No. 3 seeded Cowboys edged past No. 6 seed Parowan 58-56 in the quarterfinals, then defeated North Summit 51-42 in Friday night’s semifinal.

Saturday’s championship game marked the third time the Cowboys had played the Beavers this season. Kanab and Beaver had split their two previous meetings during the regular season, with the Beavers winning at Kanab 55-52 on Jan. 20 and Kanab returning the favor with a 54-48 win at Beaver on Feb. 8.

When Kanab’s players, coaches, parents and other fans arrived back home around 3 a.m. Sunday, the players were treated to a celebratory parade, escorted by several emergency vehicles. The girls didn’t ride atop a fire truck since it was snowing; instead, they stayed on the bus until the procession ended up at the high school.

“It was great, but the tourists in the hotels thought it was the end of the world,” coach Glover remarked, thanking the fans for their support. 

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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