OREM East High survived.
The Leopards' girls basketball team led by double-digits for most of its 4A opening-round contest against Roy at the McKay Events Center Tuesday evening, only to see that advantage shrink all the way down to a single point late.
For a while, the Leopards lost their cool and were rattled by what was happening, but they regained their composure in the nick of time.
East, the top seed from Region 6, went 4-for-6 from the free-throw line over the final 82 seconds, dodged some bullets and simply survived en route to a pulsating 51-48 win over Roy, the fourth seed from Region 5.
"It was a little too close for comfort," dead-panned senior guard Lauren Porter, who led East offensively with 16 points.
"It was a good game, though, because we pulled it out."
Heading into its quarterfinal contest against Springville at SLCC today, 'survival' is the key word for East. Despite the fourth-quarter struggles against Roy, the Leopards did just enough to be able to play another day.
"Phew," said coach Joann Orr. "(I) knew this was going to be a tough game because Roy's been playing awesome lately. I knew this was going to be a tough one for us, and I thought the kids, they never said die. No matter the momentum shifts, they just kept working together."
East High outscored Roy 16-2 in the second quarter en route to a 29-15 lead, and it appeared the Leopards were on their way to an easy first-round win.
Uh, yeah, not exactly.
The Royals began the third quarter with an 8-0 burst, and while East largely traded baskets the rest of the period, they came right back at East in the fourth.
Roy guards Sharla Stevenson and Krystin Jachim were both outstanding to help the Royals come back. Down 13 points after East scored to begin the fourth quarter, Stevenson and Jachim each scored nine points in the period to help Roy pull within a point at 45-44 with 2:15 remaining.
That's as close as the Royals got, however.
The Leopards, after being rattled for most of the fourth, regained their composure in the final two minutes to prevent the upset.
"We just tried to stay calm," said Porter.
Though Roy couldn't come all the way back, it's hard to overstate how well they played in the second half. Stevenson and Jachim drained big shot after big shot, and the Royals gave East everything it could possibly handle. Stevenson finished with a game-high 23 points and made five 3-pointers, while Jachim added 14.
After chatting with some opposing coaches beforehand, Orr expected to be in a dog-fight with Roy, and that's exactly what she got."They just battle, battle and never quit and keep going (and) keep going," she said.
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