For the North Sevier basketball team, it was a different season, a different site, a different situation and some different faces - but the end result was the same. An underdog state champion the year before, the Wolves - favored as the 2A's top team for a good share of the 1990-91 season - successfully defended their crown with a miscue-laden 55-44 victory over San Juan in Saturday's 2A championship game at Dixie College.
Meanwhile, at the 1A state tournament in Cedar City, Green River finally made good its annual bid for a state crown. Four years ago, the Pirates had a state contender that never made it out of regionals; three years ago, they finished second to Duchesne; and last year, they finished third following a double-OT loss to eventual champion Panguitch in the semifinals.But Green River - a school comprised of fewer than 60 students in grades 10 through 12 - finally claimed its 1A championship, downing Piute 80-66 in Saturday's 1A finale at Southern Utah University.
North Sevier 55, San Juan 44: When it looked like the Wolves were ready to walk away with the title . . . maybe it was fitting that traveling violations were among the 20-plus turnovers suffered by North Sevier in a less-than-stellar title game. Add to that the fact that the Wolves made only four of 12 free throws - including the missing of five one-and-ones - in the final two minutes.
"Who cares," said a relieved Coach Craig Gladwell, still mindful that North Sevier's shortcomings could have been critical in a closer game. "We turned over the ball a lot, but our defense played through those kind of situations all year long - especially in tournament time."
The Wolves trailed the Broncos 3-2 after the game's first two minutes and then finished the quarter with a 15-4 run, as junior standout Nathan Hallows scored seven points, Robbie Shaw contributed five and the Wolves as a team shot 7-of-9 from the floor.
Meanwhile, San Juan was shooting 3-of-13 for the first quarter - a malady that would haunt them all game long. "We just didn't shoot very well," said Bronco Coach Dennis Jones in an understatement, with his team finishing with 14-of-46 shooting for a 30-percent average.
After its 17-7 first-quarter lead, the tunover-plagued North Sevier managed only 10 points in the second period but maintained a 27-18 halftime lead as the cold-shooting Broncos (6-of-23 for the half) couldn't make up much ground.
San Juan eventually drew to within five at 34-29 at the end of the third period, with a 6-0 mini-run at the end of the quarter keyed by Nathan Nielson's four points and a Brook Shumway assist for Jordan Shumway's buzzer-beating jumper. And the Broncos were still within six points at 44-38 midway in fourth period before Ricky Torgersen hit a pair of free throws and Hallows added a three-point play to push the Wolf lead to 11 points.
Hallows ended with a game-high 21 points, while Togersen added 15 for the Wolves. Brook Shumway and Nielson shared team-high honors with 12 points apiece for San Juan, but it was a relatively quiet night for the Broncos' biggest guns.
South Summit 64, Juab 58: As the two teams played for the fourth time this season, the Wildcats extended a two-point halftime lead by outscoring the Wasps by two points in each of the final two periods. Jed Frazier's 17 points topped four South Summit players in double figures, while Juab's Todd Pay ended with a game-high 28 points.
North Sanpete 66, Grantsville 58: The Hawks pulled away in the first half with a 24-14 advantage in the second period. Daniel Christensen tossed in three treys and 25 points and Jeff Ericksen added 22 for North Sanpete. Carter Jackson ended with a team-high 13 for four Grantsville players in double-digit scoring.
The Pirates' inaugural basketball title came as the result of a major first-half spurt, when Green River turned a 8-4 deficit into a 25-8 lead thanks to a 21-0 surge.
However, the Thunderbirds refused to wilt, cutting the 17-point deficit to seven points several times in the second half. Despite some lackluster shooting from the line late in the game, the Pirates didn't allow their lead to get any smaller.
Green River's multi-element attack resulted in some big numbers - five treys and 28 points by Garrett Ekker; 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks by 6-8 junior Leon Carter; and 17 points and standout all-around by Gary Quarnberg. Piute also had three players finish in double figures - Klyn Gleave (4 treys, 20 points), Lee Robinson (4 treys, 16 points) and Travis Fullmer (14 points).
Undefeated against 1A competition, Green River finished the year with only two losses - one to 2A runner-up San Juan (and avenged later with a Pirate win over the Broncos) and one to Grand Junction, a 3A-type team from Colorado. And Coach Stan Parsons attributed this year's success to team togetherness. "This group is a little more cohesive than in other years," said Parsons of his Pirates. "They practically live together."
Rowland Hall 73, Milford 66: Making their first-ever appearance in state-tournament play, the Lions finished third by overturning a seven-point halftime deficit and outscoring the Tigers 46-32 in the second half. Scott Nuismer scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, while Rowland Hall teammate Steve Harmsen tallied all 21 of his points in the final two periods. Todd Puffer had 16 for Milford, while Barry Myers's 14 points included four treys.
Panguitch 70, North Summit 57: The Bobcats jumped to a 19-9 lead after the first quarter and held the Braves to five points again in the third period. Burke Fullmer finished with 22 points for Panguitch; Brandon Jones paced North Summit with a 19-point performance.
Rich 86, Intermountain Christian 47: The Rebels earned the consolation championship with a quick start, outscoring the Lions 30-9 in the opening period. Jesse Webb tallied 30 points for Rich, while Jeff DeVries led ICS with 16 points.