I thought our girls really stepped up and did a great job tonight. They didn’t let the adversity of the game get to them. They stayed consistent and constant throughout the game and battled hard when they needed to come out with a victory. They’re a gutsy group. —Carbon coach Ted Bianco
DRAPER — Carbon understood Juan Diego’s up-tempo mentality. Like a Venus flytrap, the Soaring Eagle tempt opposing teams into hurrying with extended full-court pressure and by pushing the issue on offense.
“We’re not as athletic as they are,” Carbon coach Ted Bianco said. “I told the girls, ‘You’re not going to be able to play at their speed, so you need to make sure that you play at our speed and do what’s necessary to win the ballgame.’”
Despite trailing for the majority of the evening, the Dinos were content on milking 45-60 seconds per possession in an attempt to bog down Juan Diego’s rhythm.
Oh, did it ever.
With less than a minute remaining, Carbon’s Jordan Scoggins muscled up a layup to give the Dinos a 33-31 upset victory at Juan Diego Friday in the first round of the 3A girls state tournament.
“I thought our girls really stepped up and did a great job tonight,” Bianco said. “They didn’t let the adversity of the game get to them. They stayed consistent and constant throughout the game and battled hard when they needed to come out with a victory. They’re a gutsy group.”
The Dinos (12-12) outscored Juan Diego (17-5) 16-5 in the fourth quarter behind Shelby Cornforth, who scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the final eight minutes. Morgan Hillam added 11 points.
“They’ve worked hard all year long,” Bianco said of his two post players. “We didn’t hit as many outside shots as we’d normally like to, but it’s OK. We need to get the ball inside first.”
On the first possession after the opening tip, Juan Diego’s Monique Mills immediately completed an and-one after slashing to the rim. Then, with 6:57 remaining in the first half, Dominique Mills netted a wing 3-pointer for a 10-4 advantage. It appeared as if it was a sign of things to come with the noticeable difference in athleticism.
“We knew that we were going to be playing against a really tough team,” Bianco said. “We played them earlier in the year and they gave us all kinds of fits because of their athleticism. They’re very well-coached, very disciplined, and we knew we were going to be in a dogfight if we wanted to win.”
Refusing to panic or surrender its style, Carbon remained steady. Eventually, Hillam pulled her team within one with 1:52 remaining in the half before Scoggins provided Carbon its first lead of the game, 13-12, with a runner off the dribble.
In the first meeting between the schools (a 60-50 JD win), the Soaring Eagle trailed at recess, but opened the second half on a scoring run to escape with a victory. On the opening possession of the third quarter, Alexa Mortenson swished home a 3-pointer, and Monique Mills immediately followed with a breakaway layup.
Mills provided a mini 6-0 run by herself to end the quarter with a 26-17 advantage.
“They wanted to win and they’re not gonna say die,” Bianco said of his team’s mentality entering the fourth quarter. “We wanted to get the ball and get fouled if we could. That what the whole things was: Keep attacking them and get to the line and win the game at the free-throw line. That was the whole purpose at the end of the game.”
The Dinos clawed back. With 2:46 remaining in regulation, Cornforth powered up a layup to slice the deficit to four, 29-25. Then, one minute later, she delivered another bucket to bring the score to 31-28.
With 43.2 second remaining, only trailing by one after Lindsey Bianc connected on two freebies, Hillam intercepted a careless inbounds pass to set up Scoggins' game-winning field goal.