|Carbon's Halee Rasmussen struggles against Morgan's Dani Evans during the championship game at the E-Center on Saturday evening.|
It seems it takes a Morgan to beat a Morgan.
But when you ask one of those Morgan's, Warburton that is, she will tell you that it takes a team.
On Saturday night the Carbon Lady Dinos basketball team accomplished something no other group of women have been able to do in the 30 plus year history of interschool sports at the institution.
They won the girls state 3A basketball championship, and more importantly they did it in convincing fashion, 64-54, against a team that was bigger, stronger and probably more talented than they were.
But it certainly wasn't more motivated.
"I told 'em at halftime that people from Carbon County don't back down from a fight," said Coach Bruce Bean after the celebrating at the school died down a little Monday afternoon. "I told them to attack, attack and attack. I told them if they were open they should shoot."
And the squad did exactly what Bean said. They came out of the locker room behind 30-24 and immediately started to take control of the game back from the Lady Trojans who had not lost an instate game in two years.
Not even to 4A and 5 A competition.
But the vaulted Lady Trojans had a weak spot and Bean knew they could exploit it.
"They had a close game earlier in the season against Cedar City and I thought I knew why," said the coach. "At the E-Center this weekend the game between two was not so close because the difference was that Cedars top point guard, maybe the best one in the state, was out with an ACL injury. That was a key."
Enter Halee Rasmussen. Like her team, underrated all season until the very end, she came up with the plays in the end that made the difference and that effort and that made some college coaches take notice that would have even given her a look at the first of the season.
"She just ate them up didn't she," said Bean. "You know it took her about half a season to figure out when to give the ball up to Warburton and when to keep it; she learned that. In this game it was her defense."
To get to the point where the Lady Dinos had the chance to meet Morgan for the championship they played two very dangerous games on Thursday and Friday respectively, against teams with completely different styles.
In the first they registered a 56-31 win over a physical and athletic Judge Memorial team.
"That was a great start to the tournament because we were able to extend our lead after Warburton got into foul trouble," said Bean. "We played Judge earlier in the year and I knew what it would be like. I knew if we got ahead it would be hard for them to catch up. But if we had had a bad game it could have been a real problem."
|The Carbon team celebrates their championship after the big game on Saturday night. It was the first time two girls championships have been won in the same year at Carbon. The last time Carbon won the girls title was in 1997.|
With that game against a defense oriented team they then faced Canyon View, a team that works like a machine on offense.
"This team is one of the best in the state when it comes to efficiency," said Bean just before the game on Friday afternoon. "They have flashy stars on it but they consistently play together. Steve Hobsen is one of the best coaches in the state; he has won at all levels."
But despite Beans concern, the Lady Dinos almost made it look easy by putting on their great full court defense.
"We were able to frustrate them," said Bean after his team took the Lady Falcons apart with a 46-28 victory. "They couldn't figure out our defense. But the best part of this is that we were able to execute our offense so well against what I consider to be the best defensive team in the 3A classification."
Well, maybe, except Morgan.
At the beginning of the championship game it looked as if Carbon was going to run away with the trophy. Warburton began popping in 3 pointers and soon the Lady Trojans looked like they didn't even understand what was happening to them. They became disoriented as the first quarter ended with Carbon having a 17-11 lead. No one was sure the last time Morgan was behind at the end of a first period in a game, but obviously there is a first time for everything.
However, the quarter break gave the Morgan kids a chance to regroup and they threw on their full court defense, probably the best in the state, no matter what the classification. It was a learning experience for the Lady Dinos, and it took them that second period to figure it out.
"That was by far the best press we had faced this year," said Bean later. "But after a little experience we handled it pretty well, better than any other opponents they had this year. Sure we didn't get past it every time, but we did it enough to keep them for taking us completely out of our offense."
Bean was being modest though. In the third period the Morgan press almost disappeared as Carbon took advantage of the empty room under the basket time and time again. At the end of the third period they led the Lady Trojans 44-41.
But the Carbon offense didn't stop there. It continued into the final period and when Morgan's star player fouled out, she kicked the bench and yelled out of frustration.
A few minutes later Warburton also fouled out, but she knew her team could carry out the winning plan. She stood behind the bench and yelled and clapped and encouraged her teammates.
"I had to tell her to get back so I could coach the team," said Bean. "She was so excited she wanted to get in there and help us spell out the plan."
When Carbon ran onto the court with the victory it spelled a new era in the schools sports history. For the last five years they have spent both the volleyball season and the basketballs seasons playing either runner up to the champions or just one step away from that.
|Morgan Warburton being interviewed by the Utah Sports Network after the game. She was selected as the most valuable player.|
But Warburton, who had played on these teams since she was a freshman in 2001, had grown leaps and bounds, not only athletically, but in her ability to lead and make her team better.
"She left everything on the court that night," said Bean of the girl who as a woman will play for a top notch University of Utah team next year. "This year she exhibited leadership over athletics."
Warburton was selected as the tournaments MVP and Rasmussen was selected to the all tournament team.
But Bean doesn't want the community to forget that a team won this title either. He had words for many of the keys players on the team.
"Maquette Potts should be the poster child for this team," stated Bean. "She is the heart and the guts of this squad."
Bean also said that Jamie King was a trooper who after volleyball season was ready to give up.
"She couldn't even raise her hands above her head after the tournament in October," he said. 'But she did it because she felt she owed to the others."
Danielle Martino is another he complimented. Often overlooked she has been a defensive presence on the team all season.
"I told her she needed to get out and rebound against Morgan and she did exactly that," he said.
He also mentioned that Amie Stewart had been a great fighter for his team this season.
But there are two other players that fans had seen all season who were like dust devils on the court, and it didn't stop at the state finals either.
"Meesha Rasmussen and Tabby Cummins are like balls of fire," said Bean. "They are a one-two punch for us. Each of them goes like heck up and down the court. I have to replace them frequently because they don't know anything but full speed all the time."
In the final game of her high school career Warburton scored 30 points, including six three pointers. Potts in her ultimate consistency scored 15 points and Halee Rasmussen put in 10. Others in the scoring column included Cummins, King and Martino with three points each.
Saturday night was truly sweet for a bunch of girls who worked together for the ultimate goal in any athletic career; a state championship.