The final three weeks of the high school basketball season were a wild ride for those involved. There were upsets galore sprinkled throughout the 10 state tournaments across the state. When it was all said and done, only four of the 10 teams ranked No. 1 heading into the playoffs went on to win state titles — down two from last year. The five state champions on the girls side were Fremont (5A), Springville (4A), Desert Hills (3A), Enterprise (2A) and Panguitch (1A). Springville was the only repeat winner. The boys state champions were Lone Peak (5A), Bountiful (4A), Morgan (3A), Wasatch Academy (2A) and Monticello (1A). Lone Peak, Morgan and Wasatch Academy were repeat winners. It took 164 playoff games to crown the 10 champions, and here are the Deseret News’ picks for the 10 best playoff games.
Springville 42, Skyline 40
In this well-played 4A championship game, Springville survived for its second-straight title in a game decided dramatically at the free-throw line. Springville’s Savannah Park came up huge, giving her team a 42-40 lead with 2.6 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws. The Red Devils, however, fouled Skyline on the ensuing inbounds pass giving the Eagles a one-and-one opportunity to tie the game. They missed the front end though, and the Red Devils stormed the court in celebration of their very unlikely title. Park led Springville with 15 points, and said she made the winning free throw for her injured younger sister, Bailey, who tore her ACL earlier this season.
Mountain View 56, Logan 53 (OT)
Wyatt Allred’s initial reaction when he realized he needed to take the last shot was, ‘Crap.’ He was open, though, and time was running out in overtime, so the reserve player let fly. His 3-pointer put Mountain View ahead 56-53 with 2.3 seconds remaining and Logan didn’t call a timeout fast enough as time expired on the 4A first-round nightcap at the Huntsman Center. The Bruins led comfortably 45-36 with five minutes left in regulation, but Logan came storming back to force overtime. Mountain View had a chance to win it in regulation with two free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining, but only made 1 of 2.
Monticello 45, Piute 42
Two nights before Monticello won its first state championship in 20 years, Monticello senior Dillon Maughan buried a 3-pointer that Buckaroo faithful won’t soon forget. With the game tied 42-42 and overtime looming, Maughan caught a kick-out pass from Austin Maloy and buried a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to cap a fantastic back-and-forth quarterfinal game. The 3-pointer was Maughan’s fourth of the game as he finished with 14 points.
Cedar 63, Snow Canyon 51 (OT)
In a fantastic atmosphere at Southern Utah University, Cedar advanced to its first state championship in gut-wrenching fashion. After leading by small margins virtually the entire second half, Cedar dodged a major scare at the end of regulation when Snow Canyon missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Those 40 seconds that Snow Canyon held the ball to play for the last shot were agonizing for coach Craig Cardon and his team. The overtime wasn’t nearly as stressful as Dustin Staggs and Kordan Nielson came up big for Cedar, while Snow Canyon turned it over four straight times during the decisive stretch.
Alta 50, Riverton 47
Undefeated and No. 1 Riverton survived a first-round scare from Viewmont, but it couldn’t escape Alta’s quarterfinal upset bid. Alta played a near perfect game to frustrate Riverton — ranked No. 20 nationally according to USA Today — for the big upset. With the game tied at 47-47, Alta made 3 of 4 free three throws in the final 39 seconds while Riverton struggled in the clutch with two missed jumpers and two missed free throws. Rachel McDonald led Alta with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Springville 43, Timpanogos 42
All four Springville victories in the state tournament were tight, and could’ve gone the other way. Of the four, though, its win over Timpanogos in the semis had to be the most gratifying. The Red Devils trailed most of the second half, and things weren’t looking good down 42-40 in the waning seconds. That’s when sophomore Lydia Austin came to the rescue. She drained a 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds remaining, and when a Timpanogos last-gasp 3-pointer came up short Springville celebrated its stunning sixth-straight trip to the state championship game — and arguably its least likely. Austin finished with 15 points to lead Springville.
Bountiful 44, Orem 43
Everything went as Orem had hoped except for the final two free throws. For 31 minutes and 58 seconds, the Tigers’ game plan of slowing the pace and frustrating No. 1 Bountiful had worked to perfection. Now, with Orem trailing 44-43, its best player stepped to the free-throw line with two seconds left and a chance to win it after corralling an offensive rebound and getting fouled. Just when it seemed Bountiful’s 17-year title drought would continue, Orem surprisingly missed both free throws to cap a wild ending of big shots, steals and a five-second call that won’t soon be forgotten. Sam Merrill was a beast all game for the Braves, finishing with 23 of his team’s 44 points. In fact, his running jumper gave Bountiful the 44-43 lead with 37 seconds remaining.
Davis 66, Copper Hills 62 (OT)
Just 15 minutes before Lone Peak and Bingham tipped in their dandy quarterfinal game, fans were treated to another fantastic finish as underdog Copper Hills tried to pull off the stunning upset of Region 1 champion Davis. In fact, Copper Hills led almost the entire second half and looked poised for the bracket-busting victory, leading 53-51 in the waning seconds. That’s when Abel Porter came to the rescue for Davis. Trapped under the basket in a double team and the Darts seconds from the stunning upset, Porter saw teammate Jaydon Ryan slashing to the basket. He wrapped a pass around the two defenders and Ryan made the layup as the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime. In OT, Davis held on and dodged a bullet when a Copper Hills 3-pointer came up short with 10 seconds remaining.
American Fork 46, Alta 44
One night after Alta stunned previously unbeaten Riverton in the quarterfinals, American Fork turned the tables on the Hawks. With 3.2 seconds remaining in the 5A semifinal and American Fork trailing 44-43 — and without a timeout — the Cavemen’s hope of a title-game appearance seemed bleak at best. Sophomore Jenna Shepherd had other ideas. After receiving the inbounds pass on the perimeter, Shepherd was blanketed by an Alta defender with really nowhere to go. With time winding down, she stepped back and unleashed a 3-pointer 4 feet behind the arc that touched nothing but net. Shepherd finished the game with 18 points.
Lone Peak 82, Bingham 79 (2OT)
For a brief second, Lone Peak’s push for a fourth-straight state championship was in jeopardy. Not only had underdog Bingham matched the Knights toe-to-toe the entire game, but its baseline 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime with the game tied at 75-75 seemed poised to end the Knights’ dynasty. Instead, that 3-pointer rimmed out, and coach Quincy Lewis’ team went on to survive in double overtime as Bingham’s game-tying 3-pointer came up short. Lone Peak’s TJ Haws scored a school-record 42 points to spearhead the victory, but Bingham sophomore Yoeli Childs was fantastic in his own right with 22 points and 17 rebounds.