TAYLORSVILLE Elizabeth Ricks knows how to make an impression in the first start of her high school hoops career.
"I just knew I needed to hit them," said the sophomore of her fourth-quarter free throws in Snow Canyon's 44-31 win over Box Elder in the quarterfinals of the 4A girls state tournament on Wednesday at Salt Lake Community College. She wasn't aware that her teammates were 1-for-10 from the foul line and she didn't worry about letting them down.
"We just hit them when it counts," she said with a grin. "I wasn't worried because I know our teammates have my back."
Senior guard Whitney Dunlop said the work of the Warrior post players allowed the guards to have an easier time on the perimeter. Snow Canyon had slightly more rebounds in the game with 39 to the Bees' 33 boards. But it's the timing that was critical to giving Snow Canyon the edge.
Box Elder had 11 of its 14 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. When asked about the Bees grabbing five straight rebounds in the final two minutes, Box Elder head coach Kris Harding said, "I know. Where was that all game?"
Dunlop said the team works on that aspect of the game a lot.
"That was a big thing tonight," she said. "Rebounding wins games."
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead, and while the Bees made an impressive fourth-quarter run that brought them within six points, Snow Canyon controlled the game most of the way.
Coach Wade Jensen said despite facing one of the state's best centers in Mandy Munns, they never considered changing the way the Warriors have played all season.
"We played behind the post all year," he said. "We weren't going to change things at this point. I commend Angela (Walter) for how she played in there. She is going to need to have an ice bath tonight. She got beat up in the post, but she did a wonderful job."
Walter finished with six rebounds and six points, while Box Elder's Munns scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Snow Canyon's Elizabeth McArthur scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Dunlop added nine points and three rebounds. Kylie Friedel led the team with five assists and played well defensively.
Coach Jensen was pleased that his team bounced back after a poor performance against Highland and that Ricks played with such poise. She was asked to take the place of senior Alex Jensen, who injured her knee a few weeks ago and re-aggravated it Tuesday night in the opening-round game.
"Liz Really stepped up," he said. "She hit huge free throws down the stretch."
Jensen said he blamed himself for the poor free throw shooting.
"I think I jinxed us," he said. "We shot around today and I had them shoot about 100 free throws."
The Warriors don't know much about their semi-final opponent, but they're excited to be playing in the game.
"We really don't know anything," said Dunlop.
Jensen, however, knows a little something about the Bobcats.
"They're a young, athletic team," he said. "We're probably the two top-scoring teams in 4A, so it will be a fun game to play. They're very talented, very deep."
Harding said the game turned on three things confidence, discipline and hustle.
"They came out and out-played us a little bit," she said. "That first half, the turnovers just killed us. We weren't very disciplined running our offense, and Snow Canyon executed."
Still the season, which featured a team of nine seniors, was a great one."A team isn't defined by one game," she said. "And win or lose, after being down for three quarters, they came out and got a little fire in their bellies. They made a run. Our girls know how to play basketball. ,.. It was a good season."