OREM — Richfield's girls basketball team is feeling right at home in Class 3A.
A year after winning the 2A state championship, and despite what many figured would be a down year for the program, the Wildcats are now one victory away from an even more prestigious championship.
Richfield jumped all over Canyon View in the semifinals at Utah Valley University on Friday, endured a spirited comeback in the third quarter, and then pulled away down the stretch for the 58-46 victory.
"This is our third in three years of getting into the final, and getting into it in 3A makes it that much sweeter. Not too bad of a showing for our first year in 3A," said Richfield coach Marc Peterson. "I knew we had a good team. We had a great team last year and I think a lot of people thought we'd struggle a little bit, but these girls picked up right where we left off last year."
Richfield will face Union in the 3A state championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Brooke Bliss led the way with 18 points for Richfield, which enjoyed a much better shooting performance than it did in a narrow quarterfinal victory over Wasatch on Thursday.
That early sharpshooting paced the Wildcats to a 28-14 halftime lead, and they looked poised to run away with the game. Peterson reminded his team at halftime that a blowout was very unlikely.
"Every good team makes a run, and Canyon View is a good team. At halftime, we knew a run was going to come, so it was just a matter of containing it and not ever letting them get the lead back from us," said Peterson.
The Falcons definitely made a run, and they nearly took the lead as well.
Led by 10 points from Tori McGrath, Canyon View opened the third quarter with a 16-4 run to level the score at 32-32 with 1:18 remaining in the quarter.
Peterson quickly called a timeout and reminded his players to focus on running the offense and getting a good shot. That's exactly what Bliss did, as she converted a three-point play, extending the lead to 35-32, and Natalie Niemann upped the cushion to five with a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the quarter.8 comments on this story
Richfield tacked on five more points to start the fourth quarter, a 10-0 run that quickly built the lead back to double digits.
"Yesterday we struggled on offense, and I knew today we'd come out and do better. The girls weren't happy with their performance yesterday," said Peterson, whose team shot 52 percent from the field compared to 39 percent for Canyon View.
Richfield never let the lead dip below seven in the fourth quarter, as Shacari Hinck scored eight of her 14 points in the final eight minutes.