Natalie Williams finally got the one thing she really wanted in her three years at Taylorsville High. Forget the all-state and MVP awards, the Parade All America selection and the full-ride scholarship to UCLA. What the senior Warrior lacked was a state basketball title. She had been close, coming up second for the past two years.
Not this time, though.
Taylorsville handed Viewmont a resounding, 63-41 defeat to win its first state championship. Last year the Warriors suffered a devastating loss, falling to Clearfield by one point. This game wasn't even close. Williams and her "twin tower" Wendy Taylor made sure of that. The two seniors, who are considered to be the best post players in the state, combined for 50 of the Warriors' 63 points. On the defensive end they dominated the boards, shutting the Vikings out of the paint. Williams, 6-foot-3, pulled down 16 rebounds, while Taylor, 6-2, had six.
"This year is certainly different. We worked hard for this. We knew that this was our year," Williams said. "I was nervous, but we're a team, we won as a team. It's nice to come out on top."
Taylorsville Coach John Lambourne, who in two years of coaching now has a first- and second-place trophy, was pleased with the win but also relieved.
"We've been so intense all tournament. This took the bear off our back. Coaching them (Williams and Taylor) has been an absolute privilege. They are not only great ballplayers but great people."
Credit has to be handed to the Vikings, Lambourne pointed out. Viewmont, even though down by an insurmountable margin, didn't quit.
"They're a good team. We wanted to make them beat us with their outside shot. They didn't give up."
The Vikings had to pull the upset just to earn a spot in the championship game. Friday they squeaked past defending state champion Clearfield.
"I'm happy with second; we went up against a very good team. But that game (against Clearfield) took a lot out of us. Very few teams have beaten them," Viking Coach Vi Hillman said. "They were hard to control inside. Those post players are the best I've seen. They got going right at the first and before we knew it, we were down."
Got going is right. It was still a game at the end of the first quarter, with the Warriors leading 15-9, but then the twin towers took over and things got ugly for Viewmont. Taylor and Williams combined for eight consecutive points to put Taylorsville up 23-9. Viewmont didn't hit a second-quarter basket until 3:35 remaining in the first half, when Kim Blackham scored on a jump shot at the top of the key.
The third quarter, unfortunately for the Vikings, was more of the same. Taylorsville rattled off another eight consecutive points (Williams and Taylor once again) before the Vikings could score. By then the lead was 19, at 36-17, and it was all over.
The score was only tied once - at 2-2 - but then Viewmont hit a scoring drought, failing to score for more than 5 minutes. They hit their second bucket, a Tiffany Twitchell inside shot - with only 2:00 left in the first quarter.
While the present may not be too cheery for Viewmont, the future looks promising. The Vikings lose only two players - Kim Soelberg and Tiffany Twitchell (with 10 points) - from the runner-up team. Their leading scorer of the night, Jennifer Jones with 12 points, is only a sophomore. Melissa Eggett, who chipped in eight points in the loss, is a junior.
Consolation games: Clearfield, bolstered by Kim Hill's 39 points, blew past Bountiful 68-51 for third place. Hillcrest defeated Weber 41-38 in overtime to finish at fifth. Nikki Eyre had 24 points in the victory. Layton finished in sixth place, defeating American Fork 51-50.