Herriman • It normally spells trouble when a team hits just one basket in the final 10 minutes of a game.
But that’s exactly what the Copper Hills girls’ basketball team did Tuesday as it earned a 35-33 victory over Herriman and with it the Region 3 championship.
“It’s a tough way, but it’s the best way,” Grizzlies coach Ben Morley said. “These are the types of games you find yourself in at the state tournament where every possession is magnified and when defense carries the day. If I had the choice between winning this game with defense or winning it with offense, I’d rather win it with defense.”
That’s exactly what happened.
Herriman trailed 32-25 going into the final quarter and appeared rattled by Copper Hills’ pressing defense. The Mustangs had a chance to get back into it time and time again.
They eventually did.
Jaylyn Van dyke hit a 3-point basket and followed it with another basket to give Herriman a one-point lead with 2:21 to play in the game.
Copper Hills sophomore guard Eleyana Tafisi hit the game’s final basket, a 3-pointer with 2:04 to play to provide the two-point victory margin.
“We just had to stick through it,” Tafisi said. “We were just working hard, and when the struggles came, we just worked through it. We played together as a team and stayed on defense. It always starts on defense.”
Morley concurred with those sentiments.
“We couldn’t have been any worse offensively down the stretch,” he said. “We didn’t make free throws. We didn’t make layups. We couldn’t make wide-open shots like we normally do.”
Much the same thing could be said about Herriman, which got a game-high 12 points from Samantha Jessop but struggled all night offensively, going the equivalent of a quarter in the first half without a bucket.
Copper Hills ultimately proved that defense wins championships.
COPPER HILLS 35, HERRIMAN 33
• Sophomore Eleyana Tafisi hits a 3-point bucket with 2:04 to play to give Copper Hills the Region 3 title.
• Jalyn Van dyke leads a Herriman comeback that falls just short in the fourth quarter.
• Junior Breaunna Gillen leads Copper Hills with 10 points in a low-scoring, defensive battle.
Correction: Ben Morley is the Copper Hills girls' basketball coach. An earlier version of this story misreported his name.