Cedar City • With the season hanging in the balance, Shelby Allred took a shot that made her coach cringe.
Trailing by one point against Parowan in the final minute of Friday's Class 2A semifinals, the Emery senior found her spot on the floor behind the 3-point arc.
"That's never the designed play," Spartans coach Dean Stilson said.
But Allred didn't hesitate.
With a defender's hand in her face, the leader of this year's Spartans team drained a 3-pointer that led Emery past Parowan 45-44, and more importantly, gave the team a berth in Saturday's 2A state championship game at Centrum Arena in Cedar City.
"I was just feeling it tonight," said Allred, who finished with a game-high 16 points.
But after Emery forward Jeridi Price hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the Spartans a 45-42 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining, Allred made another play.
She fouled Parowan star Chennin Benson on a desperation 3-point attempt.
But luckily for Allred and the Spartans, Benson only hit two of the three free-throw attempts.
"I was yelling, 'Don't foul, don't foul,' " Stilson said. "She's just trying to make a play. You can't fault her for that never fault her for that. She's an aggressive player who plays hard."
While Allred's late-game heroics will be remembered, Emery's defense on Benson, who came into the game averaging a double-double, was primarily what clinched a berth in the 2A title game.
Emery pestered Benson for the entire game, holding the Rams star to just four points and no field goals. Stilson said the game plan coming in was to throw as many different defenders in Benson's direction, so players remained fresh guarding one of the premier players in 2A hoops.
"You've got to stop her if you want a chance," he said.
And the Spartans did, thanks to a well-rounded defensive effort and timely 3-point shooting. Hannah Dyer came off the Emery bench to score 12 points and sink three 3-pointers, and the other Allred, Shelby's cousin Ashlynn, scored 6 points before exiting the game in the third quarter with a head injury.
She eventually made her way back to the Emery bench to watch her friend and cousin hit the biggest shot of her career.
Once Shelby Allred's shot went through the hoop, Ashlynn grabbed her by the arms and screamed in excitement during a timeout.
"She said, 'Shelby, I knew you could do it that just won us the game,' " Shelby Allred explained.