SALT LAKE CITY — Carbon entered its 3A girls semifinal matchup against Delta with a nearly immaculate record; 19-1 to be exact. The Dinos had beaten every team on their schedule — except one. That just so happened to be Delta.
This time Carbon got the last laugh, avenging its only setback to punch a ticket to the championship with a 46-30 win Friday at the Huntsman Center.
"The girls all season have looked forward to another shot at Delta and we weren't sure if we were gonna get it or not," said Carbon coach Cami Carlson. "So we were excited to get that, and to have be a berth into the championship it was double as sweet."
Early off, Carbon looked to be on fire as Tia Pappas, stemming from her 33-point outburst Thursday night, nestled up on the wing and sunk a 3-pointer on her first attempt of the night. The Dinos then embarked on a 7-0 run to start the game.
The quick start was quite remarkable considering Carbon had used every fiber of energy to claw out a win the previous night in double overtime.
"I expected them to be a little tired but I don't think they came out tired at all, they were shooting well and they appeared to be OK," said Carlson. "They had an ice bath last night, they thought that was the miracle cure for their tired legs and apparently its right."
However, from that point on both teams traded buckets up until the halfway point in the second quarter. With the score lingering at 24-14 the Dinos sunk into an ice age spell of a poor shooting. Luckily for Carbon, the Rabbits couldn't find the garden of points either.
Neither team scored the remaining 4:30 minutes of the quarter.
"We got cold for sure but I was OK with it because we were holding them on defense," said Carlson. "If we had been giving up points on the other end I think I would have been a lot more nervous. I figured if we just kept playing defense our shots will fall."
In a rather lopsided game to begin with, the Rabbits made a furious push to make things interesting. With 4:08 remaining the third quarter Delta's Kaity Diaz completed a three-point play the old fashion way on a fastbreak to cut the score to 28-21. It marked the first time Delta trailed by single digits since the 7:51 point in the second quarter.
Later, Diaz struck again, this time with time expiring in the period as her desperation 3-point attempt hit nothing but twine, ending the quarter 31-26.
With six minutes left in regulation, now a four-point game, Carbon's Kylee Lessar found herself all alone, and fired a 15-foot jump shot to push the lead to six. On the other end of the court, Miranda Averett jumped a telegraphed pass and headed down for a layup, however it harmlessly fell from the rim.
Not giving up on the play, Pappas collected the offensive board and went up for the second chance points, pushing the lead to eight.
"That was the turning point in the game where we knew this was going to be our game," said Carlson. "That's always exciting when you can feel confident that you have it as long as you play smart and safe."
Carbon will play an extremely familiar opponent in Emery at 5 p.m. today to decide the 3A championship. The Dinos have won both contests thus far.
"We've played Emery twice this year and we've won. There's that superstitious thing about can't beat a team three times in one season," said Carlson. "I think you definitely can and I know the girls want it. These seniors have been playing as long as they could hold a basketball and this has been a dream of theirs for a real long time. I think they'll do what it takes to make it happen."
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company