Grand defeated North Summit late Thursday night in a 45-44 nail-biter. The Lady Devils had led by as many as seven in the fourth period before North Summit rallied to take the lead, 44-43. Grand’s sophomore center Shelby Dalton drove the lane and made the go-ahead basket with about 50 seconds left, making the score 45-44 in favor of Grand. That ended up being the winning margin.
After Dalton missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation with around six seconds left, North Summit drove the length of the court and managed to get off a shot that missed, giving the Lady Devils the upset victory and guaranteeing them of at least a fourth-place finish at the tournament.
“It was just our turn to win,” said GCHS coach Tony Chacon, who described the team’s elation after the victory as being “the sweetest feeling.”
Dalton led the Lady Devils in scoring with 16 points, while Ashlyn Walston added 13.
“Ashlyn had a terrific game for us, and hit six crucial free throws to help us win,” said Chacon.
That victory set up a showdown with the undefeated and top-ranked Richfield Wildcats, who had already beaten the Lady Devils twice in region play this year.
Grand managed to stay with Richfield for the first three quarters of play, tying the game at 25 points midway through the third period. But the Lady Wildcats went on a 21-5 run from that point on to win the game 46-30.
“We were just exhausted,” said Chacon. “We did our homework, and had a good game plan.”
Chacon noted that Grand managed to hold Richfield’s two main big players (Jaquel Christensen and Lindsay Card) to eight and three points, respectively.
“It wasn’t really Richfield’s shooting that got us, it was our turnovers and missed shots,” he said.
Dalton led Grand with 13 points, while Walston added 12.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, the Lady Devils faced region rival North Sevier in a consolation game for third place. Grand came close to tying the game in the final minute, but Walston’s 3-point attempt was slightly off, and the Wolves escaped with a 37-33 win. Walston led the Lady Devils with 14 points, while Dalton, who was named to the all-tournament team, had 11.
“I’m so proud of our girls,” Chacon said. “We might not be the most talented individually, but we proved that we can play with anyone as a team.”
Chacon said the opposing coaches had high accolades for Grand, especially considering that the Lady Devils had the same five players on the court virtually the entire time –starters Walston, Dalton, Lauren White, Felicia Tsosie, and Oceanna Irish – with Bre Gray providing occasional relief from the bench.
“Richfield told me they were actually rooting for North Summit to win that first night, because they didn’t want to have to play us again,” Chacon said. Richfield went on to defeat South Sevier in the championship game Saturday afternoon, coming from behind to beat the Lady Rams in double overtime, 47-45, capping off a perfect 24-0 season.
The top four teams at the state tournament were all from Region 12, and their respective state finishes mirrored how they placed in region during the regular season (No. 1 – Richfield, No. 2 – South Sevier, No. 3 – North Sevier, and No. 4 – Grand).
Grand finished 16-9 overall for the season, including a 2-2 record in the playoffs.
“We had an amazing year, and got to where no other girls’ team has been in Grand County’s history. Hopefully, this will propel our program further,” said Chacon, adding a big thanks to the fans and cheerleaders who made the trip to Cedar City to support the team.