SALT LAKE CITY — For more than a moment Thursday night at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, the Grantsville Cowboys appeared to be in trouble.
After edging out the Judge Memorial Bulldogs in the first half of their Region 13 contest, the No. 2 ranked Cowboys watched, almost helplessly, as their lead was steadily chipped away early in the third quarter.
Judge freshman Teya Sidberry, who finished the contest with 23 points, was practically unstoppable, at one point scoring eight consecutive points to turn the Cowboys' lead into a Bulldogs advantage.
Grantsville could have crumbled at that point and chalked up any subsequent loss to a hostile environment and difficult road game in region play.
Instead, led by senior Madison Fields, the Cowboys weathered the Judge storm before pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 57-42 victory.
Fields finished with a game-high 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half, and 15 in the fourth quarter.
“She is a great player,” Grantsville (13-3, 3-0) head coach Megan Vera said. “She is strong on the boards and she is strong finishing under the basket. She is just strong.”
Her biggest strengths, however, are mental, and they helped turn the tide in the game.
“Her leadership is the biggest thing,” said Vera. “That and her basketball IQ. She tends to be in the right place at the right time, and she helps to get her teammates in the right place as well.”
It was Fields who ended Sidberry’s scoring binge in the third quarter, with a pair of baskets.
Those buckets, along with field goals courtesy of Maison White (six total points), Hannah Butler (11) and Ashlee Edwards (10), allowed Grantsville to trail by just one point, 34-33, heading into the fourth quarter.
It was in the fourth quarter where Fields truly made her mark.
The forward/center scored 12 of the Cowboys' initial 14 points in the period, helping her team break the Bulldogs' pressure defense, which had harassed them all night.
While Grantsville racked up the points, it finished with 24 in the quarter, it also limited Judge (9-6, 2-1) to only two field goals in the entire period, eight points total.
The key to both areas of success, according to Vera, was rebounding.
After struggling on the boards most of the night, the Cowboys finally began to find some purchase on the boards late.
“I felt like we finally started to get some rebounds. We won some big rebounds when we needed them, and then things started to go our way,” Vera said. “As that went, we were able to gain some momentum.”
Before long, a one-point deficit turned into a five-point lead, then 10, and eventually 15.
It wasn’t all Grantsville’s prowess that turned the game in the Cowboys' favor, however.
The visitors were aided by fouls and free throws, only in an unexpected way.
The Bulldogs, physical all night, earned a seemingly beneficial position in the double bonus less than a minute into the fourth quarter.Comment on this story
Instead of connecting on its free throws, however, Judge struggled immensely, making just 3 of 11 in the final period. Grantsville, on the other hand connected on 12 of 17.
“Down the line, fouls and getting to the free-throw line helped,” said Vera.
Ultimately, whether it was Fields, rebounding or free throws, it all worked for the benefit of the Cowboys, who left with the victory. Vera said they also left with a new focus for upcoming practices.
“We will be working on rebounding a lot over the next little bit,” Vera said with a smile. “A lot.”