TAYLORSVILLE — Tori Dorius stepped to the free-throw line for perhaps the biggest free throws of her life.
Wasatch's senior center had made her two prior attempts at the foul line earlier in the contest, but down by one with just 12 seconds remaining in the 5A quarterfinal contest between the Wasps and Box Elder, these two unimpeded shots from the charity stripe carried so much more significance and pressure.
"I was terrified. I'm not even going to try to sugarcoat it," Dorius said. "We shoot so many free throws every day that I just told myself, 'These are going in, these are going in, no matter what, these have to go in.'"
Dorius drained the first free throw to tie the game. Her teammates quickly hugged her, encouraging her before the final free throw.
"Once the first one went in, it definitely got easier. I could relax a little bit more," Dorius said.
Dorius swished the second one to give Wasatch a 55-54 lead. Twelve seconds later, the final buzzer sounded, and the Wasps were moving on to the semifinals.
McKell Gagon passed Dorius the ball leading to the foul.
"It didn't open up at first, the little screen across play that we ran. It was late developing and she (Gagon) still had the patience to wait for Tori to get open and get the ball to her," Wasatch head coach Norm Hayter said.
Dorius's free throws completed an amazing comeback by Wasatch. After the Wasps opened the game on a 10-2 run, Box Elder dominated the second quarter to lead 31-22 at halftime. The Bees extended their lead to as much as 14 points in the waning moments of the third quarter.
Wasatch dominated the fourth quarter. The Wasps amped up the pressure on defense, forcing Box Elder turnovers and holding the Bees to just six points in the period.
"We put the press on them and we started getting some steals, we had some great defense with our guards who knew exactly what their job was. We sometimes got a little flustered, but then we would just get our heads back in the game and know what we have to do and do it well," Dorius said.
Meanwhile, Wasatch scored 19 points in the quarter, the most it scored in a quarter on Thursday night, saving its best performance for last.
"Those girls just executed well, they didn't try to force things, which is really good. A lot of times in those situations when you get excited like that, you tend to force it and try to make it happen, instead of letting it happen, and I thought we did a really good job of just letting things happen and chipping away, chipping away," Hayter said.
Lexy Mackay, playing on a hurt knee, was pivotal in sparking the Wasps' run in the fourth quarter, making two 3-pointers at pivotal moments in the contest.
"I was a little bit worried because I hurt my knee in the last game and I just figured I'd give it all I had because this was my last chance. Went out there and didn't really think about it, just played basketball, and it turned out well," Mackay said.
With two minutes remaining in the game, Mackay hit a 3-pointer to pull Wasatch within four points. Box Elder responded with a shot from Emily Isaacson to make it 54-48 with just 1:35 remaining. From there, it would be all Wasatch.
Dorius made a shot with 1:15 left to make it 54-50, then Mackay hit a huge 3-pointer with 35 seconds left to make it a one-point contest.Comment on this story
"So big. That was awesome. Especially because she's been hurt, we were a little scared after our last game when she was out, we kind of got a little out of our groove because she's a major part in our points. Her hitting that brought up the momentum," Dorius said of Mackay.
Box Elder was fouled with 25 seconds remaining, but missed the one-and-one free throw, setting up the Wasatch possession to take the lead.
Dorius was fouled and sunk both as the Wasps took a 55-54 lead. The Bees had one final opportunity to score, but couldn't.