TOOELE — With her team on the brink of elimination facing a three-point deficit and just six seconds left on the clock, Stansbury guard Angelina Kilpack knew exactly what she needed to do.
With no timeouts left, the star senior flew down court, used a screen to get to the right wing and banked in a fadeaway 3-pointer over three defenders as time expired to tie things up at 54-54 and force overtime.
“My coach pulled me aside and told me I had six seconds to make a three, so I took it and I made it. I knew we were still in it and I knew what I needed to do — I didn’t want this to be my last game. It seriously felt like a dream,” she said.
The Stallions rode that momentum into overtime and picked up right where they left off before coming up big down the stretch to escape with a thrilling 68-63 comeback victory and advance to the second round of the 3A playoffs Friday night.
“Our team just came out and they played with guts. We got down early and they just kept playing hard. Angie (Kilpack) just knew what she needed to do and really did a great job for us. We just played hard as a team and played with guts,” Stansbury head coach Kenzie Newton said.
Desert Hills wasted no time getting rolling and got off to a dominant start behind the star-studded play of junior Ashley Beckstrand to take control early.
The stalwart guard got into a rhythm in the opening quarter by scoring 11 points to give the Thunder a commanding 17-5 lead heading into the second quarter.
However, her strong start seemed to wake up the home team as they opened the second on a 14-3 tear and outscored the visitors 17-7 to cut their deficit to 24-22 at the break.
“We just tried to wear her (Beckstrand) down. We knew she was going to score, but hopefully, at the end, she’d be more tired than we were. This was ours for the taking. It’s a war and we had to battle — they just kept fighting. We just have a lot of heart and guts,” said Newton.
But Beckstrand was just getting warmed up.
She poured in 15 third-quarter points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc, to put Desert Hills back up by nine with just eight minutes remaining. She finished with a game-high 39 points, her third straight game with 30-plus points.
Then, after locking down on defense and firing back with an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game (49-47) with just under two minutes remaining, the Stallions put themselves in a great spot to win.
Following a couple late Stansbury turnovers and great execution from Desert Hills that put it up three in the final seconds, the Thunder elected not to foul before Kilpack made them pay with the game-tying buzzer beater. She finished with a team-high 28 points.
“No, because I didn’t think they had enough time,” Desert Hills coach Ron Denos said when asked if he thought about fouling. “We had three girls on her, so I mean, hey, it was just one of those things. There was nothing we could do — she got the break.”
The Stallions immediately got to work and found a rhythm in the extra five minutes before hanging on to secure the come-from-behind OT win and advance to the second round of the 3A playoffs.
“We’re really excited. We have played Carbon in the past and it’s my senior year, so I just really want to get after them and beat them,” added Kilpack.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724