CEDAR CITY — Shelby Allred likes to take the big shots.
But the Emery senior had never hit a shot as big as the 3-pointer she nailed from the top of the key Friday afternoon.
The bucket gave her team back a late lead, and Emery ultimately defeated Parowan 45-44 in the 2A semifinals at Southern Utah University.
“She’s got a girl coming at her. She’s got a hand in her face. That’s never the designed play,” Emery coach Dean Stilson said of Allred’s shot, which she hit with 30 seconds remaining.
“But you want those players on your team that are going to step up and they’re going to shoot that shot,” Stilson continued. “They’re not afraid to.”
After a back-and-forth game, Parowan took its final lead, 42-41, with 40.9 seconds left when senior Chennin Benson, the Rams’ leading scorer all season, got her first points of the game on a pair of free throws.
It would have been a poetic ending for Benson’s only points to give Parowan the win, but Allred wasn’t done playing yet. She hit her 3 the next time down the court and then fouled Benson on the ensuing possession.
“I was yelling ‘Don’t foul! Don’t foul!’ and (Shelby), she’s just trying to make a play. (I’m) never going to fault her for that; she’s an aggressive girl, plays hard,” Stilson said. “I was thinking ‘back off’ but maybe that (3-pointer) goes in. Instead (Benson) misses a free throw and we’re sitting where we are.”
Benson missed the first but made the next two free throws, taking her point total to four and pulling her team to within one with 6.8 seconds remaining.
Emery junior Hannah Dyer missed two foul shots after being with fouled but came up with a game-clinching steal at the other end to secure the win.
“That showed she doesn’t quit. She keeps playing no matter what just happened,” sophomore Ashlynn Allred said of Dyer’s final play. “It’s how we win — as a team.”
Dyer finished with 12 points and three 3-pointers, and Shelby Allred led all scorers with 16 points and three total 3-pointers. Ashlynn Allred added six points, and Jeridi Price had seven points and eight boards with a solid game inside.
Parowan pushed the Spartans to the final buzzer behind the play of Kelsey Wilkey, who had 13 points and three 3s, and McKinsey Smith, who dominated the paint and finished with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.
In spite of not being able to score, Benson made huge contributions to the Rams’ effort, finishing with 11 rebounds, two assists and one block.
“She has been one of the best, if not the best, player in 2A ball. You’ve got to stop her if you want a chance,” Stilson said of the Spartans’ defensive game plan. “We just tried to not let her get the ball. We threw four or five girls at her in spurts, and they did a really good job.”
Parowan will meet Kanab in the third-place game at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at Cedar City High. It is the third meeting for the Region 13 foes. The Kanab Cowboys won both regular-season games.
Friday's win sends Emery to the championship game, and gives it the opportunity to play Richfield for a third time. The Wildcats have won both Region 15 matchups this season.
“They’re really physical. They play back-and-forth games,” Stilson said, “and I’d expect nothing less.”
The championship game will be played at 2 p.m. at SUU on Saturday.
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org