Our girls came out and played. I told them ‘all you’ve got to is just play, you’ve got to just play, play your hardest, play for one another, it’s nothing new. … and if you play, good things will happen. —Pine View coach Chris Brinagh
CEDAR CITY — Pine View hasn’t been a very good free-throw shooting team this season, there’s really no way to sugarcoat that. In fact, in one game this season it shot just 24 percent from the line.
Coach Chris Brinagh hasn’t dwelt too much on those struggles, instead creating a practice game designed to help his players relax and just step up and shoot.
The confidence-building technique was clearly working during Thursday’s 3A quarterfinals.
On the big state tournament stage at Southern Utah, the Panthers shot a scintillating 84 percent from the free-throw line (26 of 31), which helped them fend off Morgan’s second-half rally for the 67-57 victory. During one stretch in the second half, the Panthers made 15 straight free throws.
With the victory, Pine View advances to its first 3A semifinals since 2004. It will face region foe Snow Canyon at 4:10 p.m. on Friday.
“Our girls came out and played. I told them ‘all you’ve got to is just play, you’ve got to just play, play your hardest, play for one another, it’s nothing new. and if you play, good things will happen,’” said Brinagh.
Indeed, good things happened against Morgan as the Panthers earned a wire-to-wire victory.
Tayvia Ahquin led Pine View with 20 points, while Saraven Allen added 17. Between the two of them they made 15 of 17 free throws.
Like all the Panthers, they played relaxed. Brinagh attributes a lot of that to watching Richfield’s slow start against Snow Canyon in the earlier quarterfinal.
“It settled us down. We watched the Richfield-Snow Canyon game, and we saw two teams come out and one team came out real tight and the other team came out real loose. That’s what’s going to happen, you have to figure a way to balance your emotions,” said Brinagh.
Despite its slow start, Morgan wasn’t about to go quietly.
After falling behind 34-22 on a 3-pointer by Pine View’s Stefani Gleave midway through the third quarter, the Trojans responded with a 10-2 run to whittle the lead to 36-32.
Pine View pushed the lead back to 42-35 by the end of the third, however, and increased it 15 midway through fourth quarter with most of the points coming at the line. The teams combined for 47 points and 38 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
Morgan senior Kate Blazzard led all scorers with 21 points on five 3-pointers, but Brinagh believes Pine View’s switching defenses never allowed Blazzard or any of her teammates to get into an offensive rhythm.
James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: [email protected]