TAYLORSVILLE — Savannah Sumsion said there was no way she was going to let Alta’s Mariah Martin drive to the basket for a game-winning layup.
So when the junior guard drove at the Springville center, she fouled her with enough conviction that the layup missed. Martin then missed both free throws, and when Red Devil guard Lydia Austin came down with the rebound, the berth in the 4A state championship belonged to Springville.
“She came down, and I thought, ‘Nope, she’s not getting this bucket,'” Sumsion said after second-ranked Springville came back from a 15-point deficit to beat top-ranked Alta 50-49 in the 4A semifinals. “I had confidence that it was a smart foul. I put it on their shoulders to make the free throws, and you know what? Neither of us could do it.”
Sumsion was referring to the fact that she had two free throws with nine seconds left in the game and missed both as well, keeping a win within reach for the Hawks on their final possession.
There were plenty of moments the game could have belonged to either team. Alta had a hot start and Springville was uncharacteristically discombobulated.
The Hawks built up a 15-0 lead before Alex Sorensen hit a field goal putting the Red Devils on the board.
“I was swearing up a storm on the sideline,” said Springville head coach Cami Oakey. “I was furious. It was all things we can control. It was our effort; it was our defense. Our defense was so bad in the first half, and that’s not typical for our team. SO we made some adjustments, and I’ve said it before, but these girls just don’t want to lose. It’s not in them.”
At the end of one quarter, the Hawks owned a 17-8 lead, but by halftime, the Red Devils were playing even to trail 30-20.
Oakey said the girls made most of the changes, but she did tell Sumsion that if she wanted to keep playing, she needed to make the paint her own.
“You have to give Savannah Sumsion credit,” Oakey said. “Her play tonight, well, I got mad at her at halftime and said, ‘If you’re not going to the basket, you’re not going to play.’”
Sumsion said she recognized that she needed to play better basketball, even if she can’t really explain the slow start.
“The whole team struggled, but I personally struggled a lot,” she said. “The coaches were yelling at me and everything, and you know, the only things you can control are your attitude and your effort.”
She said once she made those changes, the game shifted. Sumsion ended up leading the team with 20 points and 11 rebounds, as well as three blocked shots. There were critical moments in the fourth quarter when she was the only Red Devil battling for rebounds, and more often than not, it was a battle she won.
With 2:31 to play, she fouled Martin, who hit both free throws giving the Hawks a 49-43 lead. On the next possession, Sumsion hit a field goal, cutting the lead to four.
Then Sumsion stole the ball and made a layup cutting Alta’s lead to two points. After that, it was about which team could make free throws, and the only player to do was Olivia Park, who hit one of two to cut Alta’s lead to one, 49-48.
On the rebound for that foul miss, it went out of bounds, and no official saw who hit it last so it was ruled a jump ball and the Red Devils got possession.
An inbounds play for Sumsion broke down and Austin saw Ali Monson “slip the screen” and she hit her under the basket for what might have been the highest layup in state tournament history.
“Lydia read it right and passed to the open lane,” said Monson who added seven points and two rebounds. “I was a little nervous, but when it went in, I was relieved.”
Oakey said Sumsion told her she thought it was headed out of bounds.
“(Monson) said, ‘I didn’t think it was even going in’,” Oakey laughed. “’I thought it was going over the backboard.’ They just were so excited and in the moment. And they just played hard.”
The Hawks were led by Tatiana Thompson, who scored 12 points and had six rebounds, while Kacey Blackner and Kemery Martin each added 10 points. Mariah Martin added six points, six rebounds and six assists.
Guard Olivia Park added 12 points for Springville and seven rebounds. She also had three assists and two steals in the win.Comment on this story
Sumsion was questioned about her big steal and layup and what impact it may have had on the game, but she said she wasn’t really aware of the score or the time — just doing everything she could to extend their season one more day. “It doesn’t really matter, and I didn’t realize that happened,” she said. “It’s a team effort. Whoever scored, we just kept pushing. We just play until, you know, we just play.”
They play one more game this season and this time it's for the 4A title. The Red Devils will play Bountiful for the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday.