OGDEN — Kanab’s six seniors already knew what the heartache of losing a semifinal game felt like — twice in fact. So even though the first 28 minutes of Friday’s 2A semifinal with North Summit suggested a similar playoff exit was coming, the players refused to accept that reality.
Down by 10 with under four minutes remaining, that’s when the urgency truly kicked in for Kanab and when it started the improbable comeback against top-ranked North Summit.
Kanab shaved 9 points off the double-digit lead in just 63 seconds, eventually forcing overtime on a 3-pointer from Sydney McDonald, and in OT it was clutch from the free-throw line eventually pulling away for the 58-49 victory.
“We’ve spent half the season preparing for scenarios like that in practice,” said Kanab coach Ben Luce. "We’ll put time on the clock, girls you’re down 8, you’re down 10, and they coach themselves up."
Kanab made 8 of 24 3-pointers en route to the victory while North Summit struggled mightily beyond the arc making just 1 of 16.
With the win, Kanab advances to Saturday’s state championship at Weber State and will face Region 13 foe Beaver at 5 p.m. Beaver beat Enterprise 62-44 to punch its ticket to the final.
In region play Beaver swept Kanab to claim the league title, but Luce said his team isn’t daunted by that reality — it’s already beat region champs Wasatch Academy and North Summit this week.
“We’ve beat two region champs already. If we’ve got to beat a third, we’re ready for it. I don’t know if we’ll do it, but we’re ready for it,” Luce said.
After the magic Kanab pulled off Friday anything is possible.
North Summit seemed firmly in control with 4:31 left when Hadley Richins hit the Braves’ only 3-pointer of the game to push the lead to 38-28.
Kanab still couldn’t get anything going on its next two possessions, but Kassidy Glover finally injected some life into her team with a 3-pointer from the top of the key cutting the lead to 38-31.
North Summit turned the ball over on its next two possessions, and both times Kanab answered with three points. The first was a 3-point play from Brinley Cornell, which was followed by a 3-pointer from McDonald after Kanab corralled a missed free throw offensive rebound.
With its lead suddenly whittled to 38-37, North Summit started executing offensively again. It stretched it back to a three-point cushion on three different occasions, the last on two free throws by Kennady McQueen with 12 seconds left for the 44-41 lead.
McDonald quickly raced down court and tied the game on an angle-left 3-pointer with seven seconds left — the first tie since 10-10 early in the second quarter.
In overtime, Kanab struck first after winning the tip-off and it never trailed, eventually making 8 of 10 free throws to seal the win.
“We hit the 3 to tie it, and then we struck first in overtime and I think that put a little bit of pressure on them as good as they are, they felt the pinch there,” Luce said.
Glover led Kanab with 14 points, with Cornell and McDonald each adding 13 points.Comment on this story
McQueen scored 20 points to lead North Summit, but she went 0 for 10 from 3-point range.
“I expected McQueen to hit more, even contested shots because she has all year, so we may have lucked out a little on that one,” Luce said. “We played good D on her though, I had three or four different girls rotating on her to contest everything that helped.”
For Beaver, Sydnee Gillins led the way with 23 points in a dominant victory over Enterprise. The Beavers forced 18 turnovers and turned that into a 21-5 edge in points off turnovers.