This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Taylorsville • Judge Memorial cluttered the paint in pregame warmups before its opening round matchup against Wasatch in the Class 4A girls' basketball state tournament at Salt Lake Community College on Tuesday morning.
Rotating clockwise, each player stepped to the stripe to attempt a free throw. When senior center Vanessa Austin arrived, her body posture indicated unwavering confidence. She went through her routine, let it slide off her finger tips, and ...
It hardly touched iron.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter.
Austin was at the free-throw line once again, but this time the game was tied with 21 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs' season depended on her ability to convert.
"I'm an all right free-throw shooter, but we've been working on our free throws, so when I went to the line, I was like, 'I've got to make one,'" Austin said.
Austin went through her routine, waved gently goodbye, and this time, hit the iron and watched as the ball twined the net in what proved to be the winning shot in the 35-32 win.
"It's such a relief," Austin said. "My body just starts to cool down and I'm like, 'We got this.' … We're usually ice from the line, but today it was a little all over the place. I think it's the tournament, I mean, we've been here all four years, but it's just that feeling that you've got to win."
Austin finished with nine points, while Miyalla Tarver, a junior, tallied a game-high 13 points for the Bulldogs, who struggled with consistency throughout the morning.
Wasatch led the entire way until Austin's free throw.
"We needed to play smart and be patient on offense," Tarver said.
One of the key weaknesses throughout the game, as Austin expressed, was the sporadic play at the line. But Judge Memorial started to convert when it mattered most. Bulldogs coach Paul Shiramizu said his team lost several one-possession games after poor performances at the line earlier in the season, so they Bulldogs started emphasizing practicing the fundamentals.
"Just taking the mindset of taking yourself back in the gym in situations like this. It's just a routine," Shiramizu said. "I tried to teach them to be surprised if you missed. Don't expect to miss. It's just a mental state. When you're on the line, take yourself away from here. It's like 'Happy Gilmore.' Find the happy place."
Judge Memorial 35, Wasatch 32
R Judge wins its eighth straight game to advance to the quarterfinals.
• The Bulldogs take their first lead of with 21 seconds left.
• Miyalla Tarver has a game-high 13 points in the win.
Class 4A girls' tournament schedule
at Salt Lake Community College
Judge Memorial 35, Wasatch 32
East 56, Mountain View 53
Box Elder 69, Corner Canyon 62
Maple Mountain 46, Hillcrest 36
Timpview 46, Highland 39
Springville 59, Kearns 44
Skyline 61, Salem Hills 41
Alta 85, Bountiful 52
9:30 a.m. • Skyline vs. Alta
11:10 a.m. • Timpview vs. Springville
12:50 p.m. • Box Elder vs. Maple Mountain
2:30 p.m. • Judge Memorial vs. East
Semifinals • 5:50 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
1 p.m. • Championship game