TAYLORSVILLE — In a game that was as wild, wacky and exciting as a traveling circus, Riverton’s Jamie Smith was the ringmaster — minus the topcoat or tails.
Smith’s crazy night featured a half-court shot as time expired in the third quarter and a have-to-see-it-to-believe-it offensive rebound after she missed two free throws in Riverton’s 54-47 overtime win over Fremont in the 5A semifinals Friday at Salt Lake Community College.
With 32.9 seconds remaining in overtime, Smith stepped to the line after Fremont desperately fouled. The purple-wearing Silverwolves (21-3) elected to surrender a potential rebound to prepare for defense, so they left their remaining four players on the opposite end.
Smith’s first attempt rattled off. The second was headed for the same result, and she knew it. As the Fremont (13-11) players watched the ball bounce gently off the iron, Smith snuck between them and corralled the offensive rebound.
“I was just (angry),” she explained. “You always think about, ‘You miss the free throws in the state game and you lose it.’ I wasn’t going to let that happen. So, I fought for the board and we happened to get possession. It worked out in our favor.”
With a second opportunity from the stripe, Smith pushed Riverton’s lead to two possessions and closed out Fremont’s season.
“That was a huge hustle play,” Riverton coach Ron Ence said of the rebound. “It surprised me. I was just shaking my head at the missed free throw and I looked up and we got our hands on the loose ball. That was really exciting.”
Riverton meets Layton, which upset undefeated Bingham, in the championship bout Saturday at 4 p.m.
Fourth-seeded Fremont forced overtime when sophomore Shelbee Molen gunned her fourth 3-pointer with 50.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Molen finished with 14 points.
“Exciting tournament game. There’s a part of me that says that’s the way it should be. (Fremont coach) Lisa (Dalebout) has done some amazing things with that program since she’s been there,” Ence said. “We knew it would be a really good game because we played them earlier in the year. They’re the hot team of the tournament.”
“Shelby played a great game,” Ence said. “I think at the first of the game it looked like she was trying to force it and caught herself in a lot of traffic. We just asked her, 'Be more selective,' and I thought she did that.”
After Fremont regained the lead, 24-23, with 6:16 left in the third quarter off Molen’s uncontested 3-pointer, Riverton embarked on a 14-4 run, 12 of which came courtesy of Richards and Whitney Saunders.
Then, after Fremont mishandled its handle at the end of the quarter, Smith emerged from a loose-ball scramble and buried a half-court heave to give Riverton a 41-32 lead.
“It’s something you always dream about,” Smith said. “It was a great hustle play because we turned it over on defense. I got lucky to get the ball.”
Fremont, with three juniors, one senior and a sophomore in its starting lineup, turned the tables in the fourth and outscored Riverton 13-4 in the final eight minutes to force overtime.
“We just had to buckle down on defense and that’s what we’re known for,” Smith said.
The message was heard. Riverton held Fremont to two points and without a single field goal in the extra time.
“We’re so excited for Riverton High School to be in (the championship game),” Ence said.