RICHFIELD — Five days removed from its shocking upset over first-ranked Layton Christian Academy in the opening round of the 2A playoffs, the clock has yet to strike midnight for this Cinderella team, the South Sevier Rams.
With its season on the line once again Thursday afternoon, South Sevier closed out the last four minutes of the third quarter on a 10-2 run to open up its biggest lead of the game and keep its Cinderella story alive with a 49-41 nail-biting victory over the Parowan Rams at the Sevier Valley Center.
“I’m very proud of the kids. I know they probably aren’t as excited as they should be, because they know they can play better than they did today,” South Sevier head coach Rhett Parsons said.
South Sevier and Parowan battled throughout the first half, but neither team could gain an edge before the break as the two teams were tied at 18 apiece in a low-scoring, defensive contest.
“I think they were really hurting us with their rebounding,” said Parsons. “Our defense was pretty good, but we were giving them second opportunities."
The black and red finally broke free of their shooting struggles in the third quarter as they outscored Parowan 16-6 to open up a commanding 10-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes of play.
South Sevier’s intensity on defense continued to bother Parowan, as the underdogs held the home team to a dismal 22 percent shooting from the field and from 3-point land to keep its fairy-tale playoff run alive.
“Defense is key for us. We struggled a little bit scoring the ball, so defense for us is everything,” Parsons said. “We have to be able to hold people down and do the best we can defensively. We finally got the kids to box out and go get a rebound, and I think that was the real difference because they couldn’t get those second shots, and that helped us out a ton.”
The Rams took advantage of their dominant third quarter and came out in the final eight minutes and drove the nail in the coffin.
Alex Baker netted 12 points and secured eight boards to help power the Rams, while Slate Blackburn provided a much-needed spark off the bench with a game-high 15 points on an impressive 5-of-7 shooting performance in the win.
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With two shocking upsets and a stamped ticket to the semifinals under their belts, Parsons hopes the Rams will start to get the recognition and respect they deserve.
“I hope people start to believe in us a little bit,” Parsons said. “Our kids certainly believe in themselves, and once you get kids believing, good things can happen.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since October 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724