WEST VALLEY CITY It was probably the only time this season the Wasatch Wasps let someone else dictate the game's pace and style when they played Carbon on Thursday.
And once was enough for Wasatch.
The Wasps returned to their usual, dominant selves by rolling past Hurricane 63-50 in the Class 3A semifinals on Friday afternoon. Wasatch advances to play Judge in the 3A championship game today.
It was a milestone win for Wasps' coach Roger Pyper, who picked up his 300th victory while coaching at Wasatch. He's in his 19th season at the school, and he has won two state championships.
Pyper didn't need to give his team, now 24-0, any complicated strategic instructions on Friday. He told his players to just be themselves.
"Today we just played our game," said Wasatch guard Karin Cottle. "We picked it up and said we're going to play our game and not someone else's game."
Just as she did in the quarterfinals, MaKayle Price hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter to give the Wasps the game's momentum. Hurricane seemed to deflate after Price's long-range basket with 3:53 left in the third quarter put Wasatch ahead 35-29. The 3-pointer was in the early stages of a 24-4 run by the Wasps.
Price said there was nothing special about the 3-pointer she made against the Tigers. She said she was fulfilling a pact that all of the Wasps made before the game.
"Everyone did their part," Price said. "That's what we said before the game everyone just do their part so no one else has to do it for you."
Price's game-changing basket was about the only similarity between Wasatch's wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The Wasps scored two points in the first quarter against Carbon on Thursday. They scored 16 against Hurricane. They shot 55 percent from the field in the first half against the Tigers, compared to just 20 percent against Carbon.
"I think the kids just said, 'Hey, this isn't that intimidating. We can come out and do it,'" Pyper said. "They just decided it was time to play."
Four players scored in double figures for the Wasps. Tara Gehring led the way with 18 points and Kimberly Parker had 15 points. Price made three 3-pointers and scored 14 points.
Cottle, who scored 11 points, provided some sorely needed consistent play from the point guard position. Alyson Baird, the usual starter, re-injured her knee early in the third quarter and missed the rest of the contest. Cottle played 24 minutes and committed just one turnover.
"Alyson has been the mother of our team, pretty much," Cottle said. "She's a big part of our team. She just looks out after everyone. She's a leader."
Cottle will likely resume her newfound leadership role today against Judge, a team Wasatch beat twice during the regular season. It's never easy to beat a team three times in a season, but the Wasps are confident they can close out what would be a perfect season."We're excited," Price said. "Like they say, it's hard to beat a team three times, but we'll be ready for them."
Top performer: MaKayle Price made a 3-pointer in the third quarter that gave Wasatch the momentum for good, and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Key stat: Hurricane was rarely allowed to get any good looks at the basket, and shot just 35 percent against the Wasps.