RICHFIELD — An important decision and two seldom-used players helped South Summit defeat North Sevier, 42-35, in the 2A quarterfinals on Thursday night.
The Wildcats' offense was almost nonexistent in the first three quarters against the Wolves, as they scored just 20 points and trailed by five going into the fourth. Coach Chad Peterson then entered freshmen Alisa Lewis and Hailey Hardman into the lineup to try and provide a spark and some scoring.
That worked — as well as a game-changing realization by the Wildcats.
"We finally decided we could play," Peterson said. "We'd forgotten for three quarters. We realized we could play."
Lewis helped get South Summit's offense in gear by driving to the basket and opening things up for her teammates. After she collected a rebound, she sank a couple of free throws to tie the game at 28-28. BreeAnn Buckner then converted a three-point play with 3:03 left to give the Wildcats a lead they wouldn't come close to relinquishing.
South Summit opened the fourth quarter on a 15-1 run and held North Sevier without a basket for the first seven minutes of the period.
"Our defense is always exceptional, but our offense comes and goes," Peterson said. "But it came at the right time."
Lewis scored all of her six points in the fourth quarter. Hardman and Paige Peterson each had a team-high eight points. Hardman first entered the game in the first period and played well throughout. Lewis and Hardman combine to average 3.08 points per game.
"Our two freshmen came in and stepped up and won the ballgame for us," Peterson said.
South Summit, which plays top-ranked Enterprise in the semifinals on Friday, didn't score more than seven points in a period before exploding for 22 in the fourth against North Sevier. More of how they played in the fourth quarter will be needed if the Wildcats are to have any chance against Enterprise.
It will also be needed to keep their coach calm.
"I was ready to throw up — throw up or throw something at someone," Peterson said, laughing, about how he was feeling during the first three quarters against North Sevier. "I guess that's why you play the whole game. You look so bad, then you end up looking so good. We'll take it."