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Braxton Syrett had the same message beating through his head stepping on to the court for the second overtime in the Class 1A state championship.

The 6-foot-1 guard from Bryce Valley took a moment, stared into the crowd at the Sevier Valley Center and thought about the challenges the Mustangs had overcome to get to this point.

Don't make a mistake — live for today and hope for tomorrow.

The entire Bryce Valley team was raw with emotion. Tragedy struck Bryce Valley off the court with the death of coach Eric Jessen's son, Jesse, last August. He was a teammate of Syrett, and he was in Syrett's thoughts as the Mustangs pulled away in the final period to defeat Rich.

"It felt so right to lift Jesse's jersey up after winning," Syrett said. "The final was an unbelievable game to play."

It's about the hard work and pushing oneself through adversity that drove Syrett. He knew he was representing more than just Bryce Valley but all of Garfield County.

"We had to work extra hard in order to achieve," Syrett said. "It doesn't matter how big your name is or your school — if you want it, you're going to achieve it."

Syrett averaged 23 points per game and is looking to play at the next level. He plans on studying elementary education with an emphasis on physical education. He credits his coach for wanting to share the struggles of this season with other students.

"Helping to lift people up to their full potential is important to me," Syrett said. "It's nice to show people how to achieve and obtain their goals."

Reflecting on the season, Syrett is proud of his accomplishments and shares his MVP season with his teammates.

"You can't end your high school career better than a state championship," Syrett said. "It's good to not have any regrets and finishing the way we wanted to." —

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