HEBER CITY — It seems like a long time since Dec. 20. That was when the Wasatch girls basketball team last suffered defeat.
That game was against Century, Idaho, a defending state championship squad, in the annual Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. Wasatch went 3-1 in that holiday tournament and flashed early signs of being a competitive basketball team.
Since that loss, the Wasps have won nine straight games, including their last four, which were all Region 8 contests.
Tuesday night, Wasatch faced its toughest test yet against another team undefeated in region play, Provo High School. Following a strategic battle that saw the home team lead most of the way, it took a last-second layup with a foul shot by senior guard Lexi Mackay to erase a one-point deficit and give the Wasps a well-earned 55-53 victory.
“These are all such really tough games,” Wasatch head coach Norm Hayter said. “You’ve really got to have a solid game plan when you’re going up against a team as good as Provo. I’m very pleased that we stuck to that plan, we never panicked and were able to come out with a really big win.”
Hayter was quick to point out that his team made no secret of having to stop the high-scoring tandem of Lavendar Briggs and Sierra Davis, who can quickly silence a home gym.
“I’m very familiar with both of those girls,” Hayter added. “You can’t just stop one and expect to win. They’ve got multiple ways to beat you over there, and you have to be prepared to stop them all.”
Wasatch, as it has done throughout the campaign, controlled the tempo from the beginning. Using a deep mix of senior players, the Wasps were able to keep fresh legs on the floor and never let Provo make a run.
The home team opened up a 19-11 first-quarter advantage on the aggressive offensive play of Mackay and MacKenzie McBride, who finished with 12 and 13 points respectively, and Tori Dorius, who added 10.
Provo was able to close the gap in the second period, cooling off the hot hands of the Wasps and holding them to only eight points.
With a four-point lead, as the teams took the floor in the third quarter, Wasatch held off a threat from the visitors. A tie at 36 points with two minutes remaining in the period seemed to alert the Wasps that the Bulldogs were making a serious comeback.
A 3-pointer by MacKay followed by a layup by McBride put Wasatch back on top going into the final frame.
Provo went to a furious fast-paced attack on the legs of Briggs, Davis and Katy Clark, but the Wasps were able to thwart any scoring runs by the Bulldogs, holding them at 41 points for over half of the quarter.
With Brooke Sargent and Faith Fitzgerald chipping in points down the stretch, Wasatch was able to cling to a 52-51 advantage with just under a minute to play. A foul on Briggs put the star guard on the line, where she answered, converting both free throws to put the visitors up by a point.
Wasatch, with time ticking away, got the ball into the hands of MacKay, who drove the lane for the and-one.Comment on this story
Provo had one last shot on a drive down the lane to steal the game away, but it bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The win gave the Wasps a 4-0 record in region play and an overall 13-4 mark, but Hayter and his Wasps know that their work is still cut out for them.
“It’s nice to keep winning these games and we’re playing pretty well, but it’ll get tougher from here,” Hayter said. “We have Skyridge on Friday, and they’re as good as any team we’ve played. We just want to stay healthy and keep playing good basketball and we’ll see how it plays out.”