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Richfield • Sometimes it takes a miracle for a team to stage a comeback and keep its dreams of a state title alive.
That's exactly what Katie Panushka gave defending Class 1A champion St. Joseph at the Sevier Valley Center on Friday to help the Jayhawks earn a 56-44 double-overtime victory over Rich in a rematch of last year's title game.
With time running out in regulation and her team trailing by three, the heavily guarded Jayhawk guard banked in an improbable overtime-forcing 3-point shot.
"Miracles and miracles," St. Joseph coach Joe Cravens said. "Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you."
Panushka put it another way.
"I knew we had to get it in," said the guard, who led her team with 24 points. "I was actually trying to draw a foul. It was kind of a prayer, and I guess it was answered."
But that was not St. Joseph's only key 3-pointer.
Both teams scored two points in the first overtime. Then, with the Jayhawks playing a slowdown style, Mady White hit a 3-pointer that gave her team the lead for good. St. Joseph outscored Rich 14-2 in the second overtime.
"Oh my gosh, I better make this or I am going to hear it from my coach," said White, who finished with 13 points, about her thought process.
The fact that St. Joseph was in this position at all also was a bit of a miracle. The Jayhawks, who were outplayed much of the way and were dominated by Rich center Alisa Peterson, who finished with 20 points, trailed 28-16 early in the second half.
But a flagrant foul on Rich in the third quarter seemed to wake up St. Joseph, which never quit.
"The team knew this was it, and we had to play hard or go home," Panushka said.
"This is a mentally tough group of girls, and I don't think I've ever said that in my life," said Cravens, the former Utah and Weber State coach who seems just as intense as ever as he paces the sidelines.