The final three weeks of the high school basketball season were a wild ride for those involved, as mild and major upsets were the theme across the state. Of the 10 total boys and girls teams that hoisted trophies, only three were the No. 1 team in their respective classifications entering the state playoffs.
The five state champions on the girls side were Syracuse (5A), Timpanogos (4A), Snow Canyon (3A), Beaver (2A) and St. Joseph (1A). The boys state champions were Lone Peak (5A), Orem (4A), Hurricane (3A), South Sevier (2A) and Layton Christian (1A).
The Lone Peak and South Sevier boys were the only repeat champions.
It took 164 playoff games to crown the 10 title winners, and even though there weren't very many buzzer beaters this year, here are the Deseret News' picks for the 10 best playoff games.
10. 5A GIRLS QUARTERFINAL
Riverton 37, Layton 31
Many believed Layton was destined for a championship game showdown with Syracuse, but Riverton had other plans. An outstanding defensive effort from the Silver Wolves in the second half led to the mild upset as Layton scored just 11 points in the second half. The back-and-forth affair was still very much up in the air with 15 minutes remaining, but Jamie Smith — who blew out her ACL in the first round a year ago — stepped to the line and iced the victory with a pair of free throws, putting Riverton ahead 35-31.
9. 5A BOYS SEMIFINAL
Lone Peak 68, West Jordan 56
No game in any classification was as highly anticipated as this showdown between two of the state's marquee teams. Even though Lone Peak led throughout thanks to 10 3-pointers, it was a very high-level game that featured numerous future college stars. Despite trailing by 13 points at the half and then by 14 heading into the fourth quarter, the talented Jaguars made two great runs at the Knights, cutting the lead to six points on two separate occasions. Each time, however, Lone Peak seemed to hit a dagger of a 3-pointer that crushed West Jordan's hopes.
8. 2A GIRLS QUARTERFINAL
North Summit 40, Richfield 38
North Summit's stunning quarterfinal upset of No. 1 Richfield was arguably the most bizarre ending to any playoff game this year. Leading 40-38 with 5.9 seconds remaining, North Summit tried to call a timeout, but it was already out of timeouts. Amazingly, Richfield missed both technical free throws. It still had a chance to tie the game, but missed two shots in the final 5.9 seconds as North Summit mobbed the court in celebration. Richfield desperately missed having star player Megan Bean on the floor in the final minute, as she fouled out with 39 seconds remaining.
7. 4A GIRLS SEMIFINAL
Springville 61, Mountain Crest 59
Easily the best game of the 4A tournament, Springville showed the guts of a champion in rallying for the win. The Mustangs came out red-hot in building a 36-23 halftime lead. Springville, however, outscored Mountain Crest 16-8 in the third quarter and then whittled the lead to 51-50 with four minutes remaining. Mountain Crest increased the lead to 58-55, but Springville's Savannah Park converted a big three-point play in the final minute to level the score at 58-58. Park then put the Red Devils ahead 60-58 on a pair of free throws. Mountain Crest had three shots from the field to tie it late, and then after getting fouled with four seconds remaining only made 1-of-2 free throws that could've tied it.
6. 2A BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
South Sevier 52, Richfield 47
Bitter rivals South Sevier and Richfield put on one heck of a show in front of 5,000 fans at the Sevier Valley Center in the 2A title game. It was a showdown of huge momentum swings. Richfield, which was playing in its first title game since 1993, jumped out to an early 13-3 lead. No. 1-ranked South Sevier battled back and closed the half on an 11-0 run to take a 27-22 halftime lead. It increased the lead to 41-31 by the end of the third quarter, but Richfield wasn't about to go away quietly. It fought back and cut the deficit to 46-43 in the final few minutes, but tournament MVP Race Parsons finally iced South Sevier's second straight championship with two free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining.
5. 3A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP
Snow Canyon 50, Desert Hills 47
Sometimes a championship game doesn't live up to the hype, but this year's 3A title game in St. George between Region 9 rivals most definitely did. Snow Canyon led throughout much of the game, but Desert Hills never let it get out of hand. It remained within striking distance the entire game, and with 49 seconds remaining took a rare 47-46 lead on a baseline hook shot from Haley Bodnar. Tournament MVP Amy Harris helped Snow Canyon regain the lead 11 seconds later on a pair of free throws to put her team in front 48-47. Desert Hills had two possessions to try and regain the lead, but turned it over twice. After two more free throws by Harris, the Thunder failed to get off desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
4. 4A BOYS FIRST ROUND
Herriman 56, Logan 55
Herriman sure made a splash in its first state tournament game in school history. With the Mustangs trailing Logan by two with four seconds remaining, Tueni Lupeamanu caught an inbounds pass at the top of the key and quickly kicked it to Jaden Rasmussen on the wing. Rasmussen confidently drained the 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to cap a wild night at the Maverik Center, one that ended at 10:30 p.m. Logan was in great position to win when Herriman turned the ball over with 15 seconds remaining. Not only were the Grizzlies leading by two, but Herriman only had three team fouls. That actually turned out to be a good thing for Herriman. In a desperate attempt to avoid getting fouled, a Logan player threw the ball out of bounds with six seconds remaining, setting the stage for Rasmussen's heroics.
3. 3A BOYS SEMIFINAL
Desert Hills 55, Dixie 51
In front of a packed Burns Arena that had well over 1,000 fans waiting from the concourse for the second 3A semifinal, Desert Hills showed tremendous poise in the final few minutes to hold off a gutty effort from an upset-minded Dixie team. Dixie only led once the entire game, but it came in crunch time with a Walker Swenson three-point play putting the Flyers ahead 48-47 with 2:42 remaining. Desert Hills never trailed after Tyler Ott regained the lead with 2:21 remaining, but it wasn't easy. Only down 53-51 with 20 seconds remaining, Dixie had a chance to tie the game, but Jaden Beckstrand came up with a clutch steal. Beckstrand came up huge again with an offensive rebound with nine seconds left, and then iced it at the free-throw line, putting his team ahead 55-51 by making 1-of-2 free throws.
2. 4A BOYS QUARTERFINAL
Olympus 59, East 55
These Salt Lake City rivals went toe-to-toe for 32 minutes in a wild quarterfinal game that featured numerous momentum shifts before Olympus finally sealed the victory from the free- throw line. East hadn't won a playoff game in a decade heading into this year's tournament, but it used a 16-0 run in the first half to build an improbable 29-20 lead. Olympus regrouped at the half, and tied the game at 43-43 late in the third quarter by sinking a pair of technical free throws. After the teams traded buckets throughout fourth quarter, Olympus built a 58-55 lead and dodged a bullet when East star Parker Van Dyke missed a pair of free throws in the final 25 seconds.2 comments on this story
1. 5A BOYS FIRST ROUND
Riverton 52, Viewmont 51 (2OT)
Riverton's unlikely march to the semifinals could've easily ended in the first round had Viewmont held onto a 13-point first-half lead by sinking free throws down the stretch. It couldn't, though, as Riverton took advantage with the stunning comeback in the first round. After missing a potential game-winner at the end of regulation, Riverton's Stephan Holm came up huge in overtime. He hit a 3-pointer to cut Viewmont's lead to 44-43, and after Viewmont's Tanner Gamble sank a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining, Holm hit a baseline 3 at the buzzer to force double overtime. In the second OT, Nathan Erickson hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining to build a 52-49 lead, and the 'Wolves hung on as Viewmont only made 1-of-2 free throws with three seconds left.