RUPERT — The second leg of the Minico-Burley girls basketball rivalry could have finished with a layup or a last-second Hail Mary by the Bobcats.
Instead, it was decided by back-to-back foul shots hit by Saydi Anderson, with a roaring home crowd behind each one, that gave Minico the two-point edge it would hold to win 47-45.
“That was just a crazy finish,” Minico head coach Anna Bateman said. “There’s no other way to describe it. It was exciting and a fun thing to witness.”
The game didn’t start with such excitement, however, as both offenses showed early struggles.
Burley took a quick lead, but its starting post, Jemilynn Mahoney, was also charged with two quick fouls.
“We need her presence inside,” Burley head coach Roger Caresia said. “She’s a real problem for other defenses, but our girls know how to play when she’s in foul trouble. This isn’t the first time this has happened.”
The Bobcats were able to stay in it thanks to Minico’s four offensive fouls in the first quarter and a lot of missed layups.
“We just didn’t finish strong down low,” Bateman said. “We were getting looks, but we couldn’t finish our shots. We just had to get back to the basics.”
But what the Spartans gave up in offensive fouls, they gained in turnovers. Minico junior Taylia Stimpson said forcing turnovers wasn’t something her team focused heavily on coming into the game.
“It was something we noticed during the game, and we were able to make the change and adapt to it,” she said.
Overall, Bateman said the first half was not too far from what she expected.
“It’s like I said at our last game: the emotions of a rivalry were high,” she said. “We just had to stay focused and make our adjustments.”
The Spartans held a 21-18 lead at halftime, helped by a 5-of-6 free throw performance late in the half.
Whatever Minico lacked in shooting in the first half, Taycee Harper made up for it in the third quarter. Ten of her 13 points on the night came then, including a jumper and 3-pointer made on back-to-back possessions.
“When you get a little offensive juice like that, it gives you that bit of energy you need to get the team on a roll,” Bateman said.
But Minico didn’t have much breathing room, as Mahoney scored nine points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 15 points.
The third quarter ended at 37-33 in favor of the Spartans, a score that would stick for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. The teams traded a couple of 3-pointers and layups, but Saydi Anderson went 3-of-4 from the free-throw line with less than 30 seconds left to play.
Burley ended up with two chances to end the game.
The first: Jemilynn Mahoney missed a contested layup down low and fouled out. The second: a little more unlikely.
With 1.6 seconds left to play, all Minico had to do was inbound the ball and hold for a foul or dribble out the clock. Instead, it forfeited a five-second violation and gave Burley one last hope for a tie or the win.
The ball came out a little high, over the head of Natalie Rice, who corralled the ball but had to shoot a long, off-balance 3-pointer that missed the mark and gave Minico a regular season sweep of the Bobcats.
“You could say it came down to one play or another,” Caresia said, “but basketball really comes down to series of plays. At the end, we didn’t get exactly what we drew up, but I’m proud of the way the girls fought the whole game.”
After losing two close games recently, a seven-point loss to Centennial and a one-point OT loss to Highland, Stimpson said it was nice to be able to hold a close lead to the end, no matter the struggles throughout.
“The first couple minutes (of the second half) were a little rough,” she said. “We had the lead, and we had to figure out how to keep it. I just think that the last two minutes, we were able to play smart and pull it out.”
Burley moves to 11-6 (5-2 in conference), and the Bobcats are still in the running for the second District 4 slot in the state playoffs. Caresia said that road to the playoffs is paved by the work they will need to put in during practice in the coming weeks.
“The last few weeks I think we’ve improved a lot,” he said, “but we’ve got to get in the gym and correct those little things we aren’t doing well.”
Meanwhile, the No. 2-ranked Spartans jump to 12-5 with a perfect 7-0 record in the Great Basin Conference. Both Bateman and Stimpson said there are things to correct from Friday night’s game, but Stimpson added that there’s something from their rivalry showing she hopes they’ll keep down the stretch.
“If we keep playing like we did tonight, with the level of aggressiveness we had, I think we’ll be good,” she said.
Minico 47, Burley 45
Burley 12 6 15 12 — 45
Minico 9 12 16 10 — 47
BURLEY (45) — Natalie Rice 3, Sydney Pilling 8, Hallie Cook 4, Rebecca Tolman 13, Ashley Shirley 2, Jemilynn Mahoney 15.
MINICO (47) — Saydi Anderson 7, Rachel Baliola 3, Taylia Stimpson 14, Bailey Black 1, Taycee Harper 13, Madison Vorwaller 3, Claire Boettcher.