|Lady Dinos headed to Cedar City for state tourney:|
It's been so long since the Carbon Lady Dinos basketball team has entered the state tournament as anything but a Region 8 first seed that no one can remember what it was like.
In the past few years they have almost always had tight first-round home games with opponents from Region 9, where the St. George-Cedar City teams always seem to be extremely competitive from top to bottom.
In fact, three years ago, a seemingly championship season for the Dinos ended on their home floor in the first round with a single basket loss to Pineview High School on a controversial call.
So this year it was expected that going in as a second seed would be much tougher. But it wasn't.
Carbon faced the Lady Bears from Bear River, a team which plays in a region packed with powerful teams, particularly the perennial nemesis for almost everyone, Morgan.
The Carbonites sent the Lady Bears back to Tremonton to hibernate for another year with a 51-32 shellacking, a score that doesn't even reflect how one sided the matchup really was.
That, however, doesn't mean it was easy for the Carbon girls; but it was pretty much the Lady Dinos' night.
The Dinos jumped off to an early lead in the first quarter 9-4, but the Bears came rushing back to an 11-9 lead with a couple of minutes remaining in the quarter.
It is hard to say who threw some of that good Carbon coal on the boiler to heat up the Carbon girls once again, but from then on the team took the Lady Bears apart piece by piece.
By the middle of the second quarter, the Tremonton team's bench had long faces all around as everything they threw at the Dinos failed to work.
But in the third quarter, the Bears did stem the tide a little. It was one of those periods that tests a basketball fan's soul.
Leading 35-15 at the half, Carbon came back expecting to pile on the points, but more than halfway through the quarter the score only read 37-18, and the east end of the Dinogym, where the Carbon girls' goal stood, had only seen the teams go at each other three times.
Be it official calls, tough Bear rebounds or turnovers by the Carbon kids, the team from the north just seemed to hang onto the ball and then hang onto it some more.
But that period also showed how tough the Dinos' defense can be. The Bears mounted assault after assault on their goal, but every shooter had a Dino paw in their face or a body in their way.
The result was a low scoring quarter with Carbon only putting seven points on the board while Bear River posted five.
The fourth quarter was almost an anti-climax, as the Carbon team began to get to their end of the floor again and despite some big misses still built on their lead as they coasted to victory.
While there were many contributors to the victory, particularly on defense, the high scorers for the Lady Dinos were those two stalwarts Morgan Warburton and Brittany Pollastro with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Now it's off to Cedar City on Thursday to play in the on-site rounds of the state tournament.
With the Bears out of the way, the Lady Dinos must now face a winged menace called the Wasatch Wasps, whom they lost to earlier in a preseason contest.
That game will take place at 5:50 p.m. at the Centrum Arena on the Southern Utah University campus.
Most experts expect the Wasps to battle Morgan, who is in the other bracket of the state playoffs, for the state title.
The girls from Carbon would like, however, to prove the experts wrong once again.
Head coach Bruce Bean said the Lady Dinos have played the majority of the state-bound teams in the regular season and that Carbon is not intimidated by any of them.
According to Bean, the Lady Dinos played the best one and a half quarters of basketball he has seen all season against Bear River.
The Dinos hope to carry that momentum into a state tournament filled with strong teams.
In the quarterfinals, Bean predicts that North Sanpete will beat Cedar City, Lehi will beat Pine View and Morgan will defeat Canyon View.
He is also confident that his team will make the neccessary adjustments against the undefeated Wasatch squad.
In the last matchup between Wasatch and Carbon at Wasatch, the Dinos lead most of the game.
But turnovers and mental lapses in the final minutes gave the Wasps a chance to take the win.
Wasatch won by a final score of 45-41.
"We basically hurt ourselves more than them hurting us," Bean commented. "We've got to reduce our mistakes. If we can do that, we can beat anybody."