RICHFIELD — Sometimes everything a team has isn't enough to win the prize they crave.
But falling short of a goal doesn't mean the season is a failure. At least not when you play like Rich High School did this week.
"We wanted to be in that last game of the day, but we didn't get there," said Rebels head coach Ashley Brown after Rich defeated Intermountain Christian 47-38 for third place in the 1A State Tournament Saturday at the Sevier Valley Center. "Our kids gave everything they had last night. They came back tonight after losing the game they wanted to win and fought hard today."
Playing in the third-place game is one of the toughest challenges for competitive athletes.
"Oh, yeah, no question," Brown said of it being the most difficult game to play. "Their goal all year was to be state champions and they didn't achieve that. And then they had to come back and play for third and fourth. You can see just what kind of kids we've got."
The kind that play hard no matter what prize is on the line.
Led by Kayden Calder, the Rebels came back from a slow start to keep pace with an equally motivated and hardworking Lions team. Calder finished with 21 points and nine rebounds while Parker Stuart added 15 points and nine rebounds. Brent Wallentine helped the Rebels dominate the board with nine rebounds as well.
ICS was led by senior Josh Mylar who has been a key leader for the Lions in this tournament. He finished with 13 points and four rebounds. Center Zach Paige added 12 points and four rebounds in the loss that gave the Lions fourth place.
Brown said coaches and players discussed why the consolation game deserved their best effort.
"We talked about it a little bit," he said. "There is still a lot to play for. You're showing your character and how you deal with it when you don't achieve what you want. You can see what they did today."
Rich had a tough path to the championship game, including a double-overtime game against Monticello and a barn-burner against Wasatch Academy.
"We knew from the beginning that our road was going to be very hard from Game 1 to Game 4," Brown said. "They came out, played hard and gave themselves a chance to win. That's all you can ask of kids."
Brown loses five seniors, but he's confident the Rich basketball tradition will live on in the younger players.
"We lost their leadership," he said. "Their will to never give up; no matter what happens to them, they bounce back the next time and still give you 100 percent."
And as for the third-place finish, Brown and the Rebel community couldn't be prouder.
"We're dang proud of them," he said. "They gave all they had, and that's all you can ask."
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