RICHFIELD — Kierra Gleave knows she and her teammates are torturing her parents.
But the third-ranked Piute T-birds just can't seem to help themselves.
"We've been doing this all season long," said the junior after Piute earned a thrilling comeback win against Layton Christian, 58-55, to earn a shot at the defending state champion St. Joseph Jayhawks Saturday.
She said that there was never a moment when she thought the win was slipping away from the T-birds, who won the Region 20 title in similar fashion last week.
"I feel confident in my team," said Gleave, who finished with 14 points, including six in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. "Our parents say we're giving them all heart attacks, but I knew we'd come through."
Head coach Wade Westwood wasn't so sure. At one point, the T-birds missed four attempts before Whitney Westwood was fouled while shooting. "I was hiding my face because we just kept trying to shoot it, and I was yelling back it out," he said. "I think Layton Christian's size and length and jumping ability intimidated us. We started rushing our shots."
Both teams play a fast-paced, fun-to-watch style of basketball. Layton Christian's biggest lead came in the third quarter when it led 43-39 headed into the final quarter.
The Eagles were led by junior Teneshia Davison, who scored 28 points and had three blocked shots. She got the Eagles off to a quick start and never let up. Senior Alissa Atisme added 11 points and Shayla Simpson finished with seven.
The loss means Layton Christian will face Rich for third/fourth place on Saturday afternoon. It was an impressive run for a team that wasn't ranked all season.
The T-birds were thrilled to be back in the state championship game after winning the title in 2009.
"We've been here quite a bit," said Westwood. "It's like we couldn't get by this game."
He said he knows the team will be challenged to its limits in Saturday's title game.
"We've got our hands full," he said of playing St. Joseph. "They're well-disciplined, smart players with a heck of a coach. But I think we can give St. Joe's a game if we play the way we're capable of playing instead of how we played tonight."
In the 1A consolation games:
MANILA 50, ESCALANTE 41: Manila earned a consolation victory behind the 19-point performance of Janell Reed. Rebecca Collet added 12 points, and Emily Catron finished with 11 points. The Moquis were led by Lindsey Phillips' 20-point performance and Shelby Steed's 12 points in the loss. Manila moves on to play the winner of the Milford/Monticello game for fifth place Saturday.
PANGUITCH 47, WAYNE 33: The fifth-ranked Bobcats advance to the sixth-place game with an impressive win over Wayne. Darri Frandsen and Taylor Bennett led the team with 15 and 18 points, respectively. The loss eliminates the Badgers, who had a great run after qualifying for the tournament with a play-in win. Wayne was led by Rebekah Rasmussen, who scored 15 points.Comment on this story
DUCHESNE 43, TINTIC 28: The Eagles advance in consolation play with a big win over Tintic. Mashaylee Giles led the team with 10 points, while Melissa Robinson added nine points and Shayla Giles contributed 8 points in the win. The Miners were led by Ciera Wall and Esther Pehrson, both of whom scored seven points each in the loss. The loss eliminates the Miners from the tournament.
MILFORD 35, MONTICELLO 22: Kennedy Netto led the Tigers with a 13-point game. The win means Milford will take on Manila for fifth place Saturday afternoon. Aapree Sheeran led the Buckaroos with seven points.