The final three weeks of the high school basketball season were a wild ride for those involved, with upsets galore sprinkled throughout the 10 state tournaments across the state.
When it was all said and done, six of the 10 teams ranked No. 1 heading into the playoffs went on to win a state title — up from three last year.
The five state champions on the girls side were Riverton (5A), Springville (4A), Dixie (3A), Richfield (2A) and St. Joseph (1A). St. Joseph was the only repeat winner.
The boys state champions were Lone Peak (5A), Sky View (4A), Morgan (3A), Wasatch Academy (2A) and Bryce Valley (1A). Lone Peak was the lone boys repeat winner.
It took 164 playoff games to crown the 10 champions, and here are the Deseret News’ picks for the 10 best playoff games.
James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor. Follow on Twitter @DNewsPreps
Dixie 33, Desert Hills 32
No. 1 Desert Hills beat Dixie twice during the regular season, and there was no reason to think it wouldn’t win again in the 3A state championship at the Dee Events Center. The underdog Flyers had other ideas. In a tournament that had been low scoring throughout, Dixie stymied Desert Hills all game and then sophomore Kelsey McCann drained an angle-left, game-winning 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining. Desert Hills responded with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the refs ruled it didn’t get the shot off in time.
Morgan 52, Wasatch 50
A night before blowing out Bear River in the championship game, No. 1 Morgan received a huge scare from upstart Wasatch in the semifinals at the Dee Events Center. The Wasps jumped all over Morgan to take a 23-19 halftime lead, but they couldn’t sustain the momentum and fell behind 50-41 with 4:24 remaining in the game. Just when it looked like Morgan would run away with the win, Wasatch responded with a 9-0 run to level the score at 50-50 with 1:42 remaining. Neither team scored again until tournament MVP Jake Miles drained two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining.
Snow Canyon 67, Ben Lomond 66 (OT)
In a wild, back-and-forth quarterfinal at the Dee Events Center, Snow Canyon’s Jacob Frei drained a 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining in overtime, which proved to be the game winner as Ben Lomond turned the ball over on its final two possessions. A huge crowd of Ben Lomond fans were on hand to watch the 9:30 a.m. game at Weber State, and they were treated to quite a show as the teams combined for 15 3-pointers. Chandler Gines appeared to score the winning basket on a driving layup at the end of regulation, but the refs waved it off because of an offensive foul.
St. Joseph 56, Rich 44 (2OT)
Down three in the closing seconds of regulation, it looked like undefeated St. Joseph’s dream season was about to come to an end. Incredibly though, Katie Panushka banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. St. Joseph coach Joe Cravens called the shot a “miracle of miracles.” After a low-scoring first overtime, No. 1 St. Joseph dominated double overtime on its way to its second straight state championship.
Timpview 56, Sky View 55 (OT)
With a berth in the championship on the line, underdog Timpview overcame an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to rally for the overtime victory at Salt Lake Community College. Lyndie Haddock scored 10 of Timpview’s points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-point play that put the T-Birds ahead 48-47 with seconds remaining. Sky View tied the game by making one of two free throws in the waning seconds, but the Bobcats ran out of teams in overtime.
Riverton 41, Layton 37
Riverton captured its first basketball state title — boys or girls — with a thrilling victory over Layton in the 5A championship at Salt Lake Community College. Layton was a slight favorite after upsetting No. 1 Bingham the day before, but Whitney Saunders had a fantastic game for Riverton, finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds. With Riverton struggling to hold a one-point lead late in the game, Gerika Ballard converted a layup on a no-look bounce pass from Shelby Richards to provide the ’Wolves with the cushion they needed.
Logan 65, Orem 60
On paper, defending state champion Orem seemed like a lock to beat Logan in the first round of the 4A state tournament at the Dee Events Center. Logan needed to win two play-in games just to qualify for the state tournament, and No. 1 Orem rolled into the tournament as the clear-cut team to beat. Despite the long odds, Logan made 10 3-pointers and played a near perfect offensive game to stun the Tigers. The Grizzlies shot 56 percent from the field, 59 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Logan led the entire game until Orem took a two-point lead on two different occasions in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies didn’t panic and eventually pulled away from the free-throw line. Sophomore Tyler Brimhall was sensational, finishing with 23 points on five 3-pointers.
Gunnison 49, Emery 46
Colby Caldwell capped Gunnison’s impressive run to the 2A championship game as he drained an angle-left 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs the stunning semifinal victory over Emery at Southern Utah University. Coach Ben Hill said, “the basketball gods are shining on us.” Emery sophomore Dillon Wilstead tied the game at 46-46 on a jumper with 52 seconds remaining, and Gunnison drew up a play during a timeout to ensure that Caldwell took the last shot. Caldwell finished the game with 15 points and three 3-pointers.
Bryce Valley 68, Duchesne 59 (2OT)
In an emotional end to a great 1A state tournament, Bryce Valley edged Duchesne in double overtime at the Sevier Valley Center behind the 23-point, 10-rebound effort from senior Braxton Syrett. It was an emotional game for both teams as Duchesne said goodbye to head coach Stan Young (39 years) and Bryce Valley dedicated the win to coach Eric Jessen's son, Jesse, who was killed in a car accident in August. Bryce Valley’s Logan LeFevre converted a rebound-putback at the end of the first overtime to send the game into overtime. Kix Roundy hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute of double overtime to seal the win.
Sky View 63, Bountiful 60 (OT)
The night before Sky View captured its first basketball state title in 19 years, senior Jalen Moore hit the shot of his life — a dramatic half-courter that was featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter. With the 4A semifinal between Bountiful and Sky View tied at 60-60 with 2.9 seconds remaining, Moore heaved a rainbow shot from half court that touched nothing but net. In a game with continual momentum swings, Moore nearly won the game at the end of regulation on a half-court shot that bounced off the rim. Bountiful took a 58-54 lead with 45 seconds remaining in overtime, but Sky View rallied and Moore hit the first of his two dramatic 3-pointers with 9.7 seconds remaining to tie the game at 60-60.