As far as I know, (the best) we’ve ever finished at state is third place. These girls have been fighting it. They’ve wanted this for a long time. —Millard coach Melanie Bassett
RICHFIELD — A day after putting forth a middling performance against the Layton Christian Eagles, or as head coach Melanie Bassett put it, “we didn’t play to the best of our game,” Millard flipped the script entirely Friday night at the Sevier Valley Center.
Led by star senior Kynlee Penney, Millard looked every bit a championship contender in their semifinal contest against the Kanab Cowboys, a game that ended in a 67-56 Millard victory.
Penney finished with a game-high 28 points, including a clutch three-point play late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. Megan Wade chipped in 13 points for the Eagles, in what was their best performance of the tournament.
“(Even) just on the bus, they were ready to play,” said an emotional Bassett. “(The girls) told each other that while this wasn’t our last game, it was our last chance (to make it to the state championship). They’ve played together since they were in seventh and eighth grade and this has been their goal since they were little. They knew they had to come out and not leave anything behind.”
“They did it.” she added.
No player was more instrumental in making sure the Eagles did in fact beat Kanab, for a third time this season no less, and advance to the final than Penney.
The senior scored at least six points in every quarter, including seven in the final quarter. Her three-point play, scored with just over a minute remaining in the game, ended a Kanab run that had brought the Cowboys within eight points of the Eagles.
“I don’t know (what else to say about Kynlee),” said Bassett. “We were afraid because we had beaten Kanab twice and it is hard to beat a team three times in one season. She brought it and brought the team with her. She brings everyone up. You can’t ask for much more from her.”
“It was a great team effort. We played well and we fought well,” said Bassett. “Kobree, she always has awesome games, got lots of rebounds for us. Isabel struggles here and there, but she stepped it up and was scoring points for us and getting rebounds when we needed them.”
Early on it seemed as though the contest would go down to the wire. After a quarter the Eagles lead was just 14-11 and the Cowboys had proven they could hang with Millard.
A huge second period, Millard outscored Kanab 20-8, gave the Eagles much needed breathing room, however. The trio of Penney, Penney and Wade were particularly instrumental in the frame, scoring 16 of the 20 points.
Kanab came out strong after halftime, led by Brinley Cornell. Cornell finished with a team-best 19 points in the game, 11 of which came in the second half.
The Eagles proved too much for the Cowboys, however, and are now a game away from being crowned state champions.
“As far as I know, (the best) we’ve ever finished at state is third place,” said Bassett. “These girls have been fighting it. They’ve wanted this for a long time.”