High school girls basketball: Layton Christian hangs on for huge win in the 1A quarterfinals
RICHFIELD — Alissa Atisme threw the ball into the air and immediately knew she'd made a terrible mistake.
"I felt really bad," said the Layton Christian senior.
She immediately told Eagles coach Lewis Lofton that she'd make up for it.
"I didn't think I would (get the chance to do so)," Atisme said after her Eagles won one of the night's two nail-biters — a 42-40 victory over Escalante — at the 1A girls basketball tournament Thursday. "I was scared. As soon as I did it, my heart dropped into my stomach."
After Atisme's mistake, however, an uncharacteristic travel call on an Escalante veteran gave the Eagles the ball back. With her team clinging to a tiny lead, Atisme, one of just two starters who hadn't fouled out, made amends by running the clock out to give LCA a wild win.
"This means everything," said Atisme, who choked up as she thought of what it meant to the team, the program and the small Layton school. "We've worked so hard. We've had girls quit on us, and this just means everything."
She stood in the hallway outside her team's locker room at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield with two of her teammates who had to watch from the bench after fouling out in the fourth quarter. In all, five players from both teams left the game early due to fouls.
"I was scared," said one of those players, sophomore Shayla Simpson, who was the first to shed tears over the win. "But I knew they would pull through.
Junior Teneshia Davison said she was "terrified" as she watched her younger teammates battle with a tough Region 20 foe. She finished with 13 points, as did Simpson. Atisme added 10 points in the victory that allows the team to play Piute in Friday's semifinal round. The other semifinal will feature LCA's region rival and defending 1A state champion St. Joseph and second-ranked Rich High.
"We want to play St. Joe's again," said Atisme.
The Eagles got off to a rough start Thursday when they showed up at the arena in the wrong uniforms. They rushed back to the hotel and quickly changed, but it created a more stressful first half for the young players. "I was so stressed," said Simpson with a slight laugh.
Lofton was thrilled with the way his younger players managed to stay composed when they were called on as the starters fouled out.
"There is nothing I can do but hope they will perform," he said. "Escalante did a great job pressuring the ball and not letting us do what we wanted."
He said he was pleased with how his players handled the intense situation, despite making a few mental mistakes.
"I was happy with the young girls because they've never been in that position," he said. "I do think the last regular-season game helped prepare us for this. They have to learn that when they make mistakes, they have to let it go. We're just going to make up for it." Lofton hoped the high-stress, fast-paced game will prepare his team for Friday's contest.
"It was really good for my girls to get this experience," he said. "It's going to be a great game, and the girls are very excited."
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