Lady Dinos complete road to second straight region championship
On the surface, not much has changed for the Carbon High Lady Dinos basketball team.
Despite losing some key players from last year's second place team at the state tournament, adjusting to a new head coach and starting play in a new region, the Carbon High girls continue to do what they have done best over the past two years.
Needing a win to wrap up a second consecutive region championship, Carbon started slow but finished with a fury in the second half as they defeated Delta 54-36 on Thursday night, giving Carbon their place atop the Region 12 standings.
"This was a huge win for us," said Carbon High head coach Ted Bianco. "We're very fortunate to be Region 12 champions."
The win was crucial for Carbon as a loss would have left them in a three-way tie with Delta and Juab for first place.
At the start of the game, it didn't look like Carbon would have a happy ending, as they struggled to make shots on offense. Through much of the first half both teams kept up the pressure on defense, not allowing either team to gain an advantage. The slow offensive pace left Delta with a 14-13 advantage at halftime.
Carbon High senior Kelcy Otani said the Lady Dinos have struggled at times on offense over the season. But she and teammates remained confident they could get things going in the second half.
And they did just that. Shots started falling for Carbon allowing them to get settled into their pressure defense early in the third quarter and carrying through the rest of the game.
"Sometimes it takes us a little while to get going on offense," Otani said. "Coach Bianco was confident and knew that we would get things going."
Carbon used an 18-4 run through the first six minutes of the third quarter to blow the game wide open. They out scored Delta (13-6, 7-3 Region 12) 22-6 in the quarter, turning a one point deficit into a 15 point lead.
"We picked things up in the second half and looked for the best open shot on offense," said senior Amanda Freestone.
Carbon continued using their pressure defense into the fourth quarter helping get steals and fast break opportunities to keep the game out of reach.
As the game clock ticked down to zero, Carbon High senior Lexi Gagon connected on a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Carbon bench that put the exclamation point on the Lady Dinos' Region 12 championship.
Senior Miranda Averett led Carbon with 16 points. Fellow seniors Rachel Scoggins and Freestone added 15 points and eight points respectively.
For Carbon (16-4, 9-1 Region 12), winning the Region 12 championship does have its benefits. The Lady Dinos will host Ogden High in the first round of the state tournament on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the CHS gymnasium.
"We have a great home crowd that has supported us all season long," Freestone said.
But for the seven seniors on the squad, playing one of their final games at home was the culmination of hard work and determination.
"It's the best feeling ever, going out with a win as a senior," Otani said.
"We've lived off our seniors all season long," Bianco said. "When they made mistakes, they have all adjusted very quickly."
Now with their sights set on the 3A state tournament, the Lady Dinos know that a lot of hard work remains if they want to reach the heights of last year's team.
"It means everything to us going to the state tournament," Freestone said. "We have a drive to win every game and we always play as hard as we can."
Despite the changes to the team this season, with Bianco coming over to the girls team after coaching the boys team, Bianco said he is proud of the way the team has worked over the season.
"I couldn't ask for a better group of girls to coach this year," he said. "They've responded well to me and the staff."