RICHFIELD — No team aspires to win third place.
Which is why when Rich head coach Scott Ferguson talked to his team about letting go of Friday's heartbreaking double overtime loss to St. Joseph in the 1A semifinals, he didn't bring up claiming third prize as any kind of consolation.
"I told them they were playing for pride and for everybody who came to support them," Ferguson said after the Rebels defeated Layton Christian 60-33 at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. "It was pretty tough. But they did it, and I'm proud of them for doing so. It shows their character."
The Rebels were led by Alisa Peterson, who scored 15 points, and Emmalee Peart, who scored 13, and Cami Lamborn, who added 13 points in the team's final win of the season.
"It was hard to play that game after the hard loss, but it was my last basketball game with my teammates," said senior center Alisa Peterson. "I've been playing with these girls since we were in first grade."
She said she leaves the season with no regrets.
"Everyone had so much confidence in each other," she said. "My team did great."
The only other team that can understand just how hard it was for the Rebels to give their best effort Saturday is the team they beat — Layton Christian. The unranked Eagles nearly upset third-ranked Piute in Friday's semifinals.
"They were down from the heartbreak last night," said head coach Lewis Lofton. "They felt they should be in that championship game."
The abrupt end to such an emotional ride was too much for the young team to process in less than 24 hours.
"They just had a hard time letting it go," he said.Comment on this story
At one point, Lofton took his starters out of the game and tried to inspire them to give a more inspired effort.
"I told them they looked like they wanted to be fourth place," he said, "like they're not supposed to be here. And I asked them to give some effort. I asked them to make it a game. Some of them responded well."
He said expectations would be higher for the Eagles next winter.
"They'll be up to the challenge," he said.