We knew coming into the season that our region wasn't strong. So we knew we had to win to make a statement. —Kelsey Barney, North Sevier
RICHFIELD — In the first half of Thursday's North Sever-Kanab girls basketball game, points were so hard to come by that the scoreboard operator almost fell asleep.
Then the Wolves' Kelsey Barney found her range, scoring all seven points in a game-changing, third-quarter run that helped push her team on top and North Sever never looked back in a 40-32 victory over Kanab in the quarterfinals of the 2A state championship tournament at the Sevier Valley Center.
"I just knew that I had to score and that I had to get my shot up, it needed more arch," said Barney, who finished with a game-high 13 points and was sporting a nasty-looking welt under her left eye after the game."
With the Wolves trailing 15-14 midway through the third period, Barney took command by hitting three straight shots, including a 3-pointer, and Morgan Miller made a late bucket to finish the decisive 9-0 run that gave North Sevier a 23-15 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Wolves never led by less than four after that and made 8-of-16 free throws down the stretch, including 4-of-6 by Barney, to finish it off and advance into today's 2A semifinals against Enterprise, which stopped South
Summit 38-33 in the late game.
"That's something we'll need to work on tomorrow," Barney said of her team's shaky free-throw shooting. "Usually that (good foul shooting) is what has won our games for us. It was a little bit of state nerves."
North Sevier coach Lexa Larsen said the low-scoring nature of Thursday's game is customary come state tournament time. She's just glad Barney stepped up to take matters into her own hands when the Wolves needed her most.
"I think it's always that way at the state tournament, especially the first day when everybody's nervous and you know you've got to play defense and you've got to get your jitters out," Larsen said. "I've seen a lot of ugly first halves. That wasn't really too surprising to me.
"Kelsey hit some really big shots that gave us some breathing room and fired us up on defense. And I really credit her for keeping her composure because they picked her up full court and pressured her the entire game.
"She's been a varsity starter for three years, so everybody knows that she's the key to our team," Larsen said. "She just really did a great job of handling that pressure and getting our offense started."
Barney said she hopes Thursday's win will help give her team, which ran its record to 18-5 with its 16th straight victory, some long-overdue respect.
"Kanab plays in what everybody says is the best region because they've got Beaver and Enterprise," she said. "A lot of people say that our region is the weakest region and that we just slid by. So this game was to prove that we really do belong and we do deserve to win.
"At the beginning of the season, we struggled a little bit, but we came on and now we've won 16 in a row. We've got eight seniors and we've played together forever, but for some reason at the beginning of the season our chemistry was off. But we got it together and I think we all just decided that this was our chance and we were going to make it work.
"We knew coming into the season that our region wasn't strong," Barney said. "So we knew we had to win to make a statement."