But when the game was on the line, the senior forward took it upon herself to deliver as she forced her way to the basket and earned two free throws with just seconds remaining.
"In the first quarter, I honestly didn't even know the clock was winding down," Vawdrey said. "In the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line, I had to know. I learned from my mistake in the first, and after that I knew I needed to make a play. I'm good enough to go to the line if I don't score it. I just drove and was hoping for the foul."
With all eyes on her, Vawdrey sank both free throws with 2.7 glaring on the clock as her last-second drive proved just enough to earn a 34-32 victory over Richfield and the Class 3A girls' basketball state championship Saturday.
"I've had dreams about this happening to me, so I was kind of prepared," Vawdrey said about stepping to the line with a chance to put a state title on ice. "I needed to make those free throws. I've thought about making those free throws. I make about 20 free throws before every game, so I just knew I needed to make them. The nerves were there, but I fought through them."
Juan Diego got off to a soaring start in the first quarter, using an 8-1 run to take control before Richfield's Emma Jones sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 12-9 after one.
The second quarter was not kind to either squad as turnovers and missed shots plagued both sides, and they entered halftime tied at 18-18.
The entire second half remained a back and forth affair as Juan Diego's Becca Curran and Richfield's Shandi Bastian operated as their respective team's offensive catalysts. Curran was able to create some breathing room for the Soaring Eagle after scoring the opening five points of the fourth quarter, but Bastian's paint play and free-throw shooting got the Wildcats back in the game with four minutes remaining,tied at 30-30.
After Juan Diego's Anna Ewoniuk missed a pair of free throws that could have taken the lead, the Soaring Eagle defense stepped up and forced another of Richfield's 15 turnovers that led to two made free throws by Curran with under two minutes to play.
"Our team thrives on defense and turnovers," Juan Diego coach Tim Turpin said. "We like presses. We get after [the opponents] our defense forcing turnovers was absolutely huge. If we don't get turnovers and get the pressure on them, we're just like any other team."
The defense proved to be the determining factor down to the last seconds of the game. Juan Diego forced its final turnover by getting its fingers on Richfield's last-ditch inbound play.
"I think that was probably the key our defense was really good today," Turpin said. "Our kids never really got out of the game even though we got in some trouble. We pressed them a little bit, got back down and made some shots. [Richfield] played a heck of a game, it could have gone either way. It was one of those games where we were fortunate to have that [play] at the end to win it. I'm just thrilled."
Juan Diego 34, Richfield 32
R Juan Diego senior Trista Vawdrey scores 11 points, including the game-winning free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining.
• Soaring Eagle senior Becca Curran leads all scorers with 15 points and adds four steals.
• Juan Diego secures second Class 3A state title after winning it in 2015.
• Shandi Bastian leads Richfield with 10 points while racking up nine rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist.