RICHFIELD Wayne High School girls basketball coach Heidi Woolsey knew her players had the talent to compete with the top 1A teams this season.
The problem was, her players didn't.
"We have good kids. We've got a lot of talent, but I don't think they believed in themselves," Woolsey said after the Badgers edged Altamont to take sixth place in the 1A girls state tournament at the Sevier Valley Center. "We had a rocky season, so just to get here was
but we came on strong at the end."
Wayne won just four region games, but one of those gave them enough momentum that they made it to the final day of play in the 1A tournament.
"When we beat Panguitch," she said, "that really boosted them a lot."
The teams started even, although six of the Badgers' eight points were scored by one player, Krista Durfey. But in the second quarter, Wayne's press stalled the Altamont offense and Wayne took a 25-19 advantage into the half.
In the third quarter, it was just the opposite. The young Long Horns wreaked havoc on the Badgers' offense and they held them to just two points, both free throws.
Altamont was led by freshman Whitney Fieldsted, who scored all eight of the Longhorns' points in the final quarter of play.
"We're a fairly young team," said Altamont coach Wyann Taylor. "It's been five years since we've been to state. None of these girls have ever seen the floor of state. Now that we've had a taste of winning, they'll want it even more next year."
The Longhorns have just three seniors, while Wayne had just one senior.
Taylor said the team struggled the first two days of state, but began to feel more comfortable Friday.
"Yesterday we played well and proved we could play," Taylor said. "We plan to come back."
Woolsey's squad is in much the same boat, except the Badgers have a tradition of being very competitive every season. She said chemistry issues and confidence kept the squad from a better record as they finished 12-12 on the season.
"That was a good game," said Woolsey of Saturday's contest. "I can't say the sixth-place game is always fun to watch. But that was a fun game. Altamont it's a good team."
Wayne had a balanced offensive effort led by juniors Brooke Blackburn and Jeanessa Taylor, who scored 10 points apiece, and junior Krista Durfey, who added nine points.
Woolsey was happy to see her players earn a sixth-place finish."Considering our season, these kids have grown and come a long way," she said. "They did some good things individually, and that's what it's all about."