In a game where neither team led by more than seven points, the Carbon Dinos squeaked by the Stansbury Stallions in the first round of the playoffs thanks to a game-winning shot by Shelby Conforth with 5 seconds remaining.
Following an offensive foul called on the Stallions’ Madie Alvey, the Dinos had the ball with 56.5 seconds left on the clock, and they called a timeout. They came out of the break passing the ball around the perimeter to hold for the final shot.
With 12 seconds remaining, they set up the offense and got the ball inside to Conforth. She turned and put in a shot from about 10 feet from the basket for the go-ahead bucket. The Stallions’ final heave from half court missed, and the Dinos advanced to the three-day state tournament in Ogden.
Carbon’s home fans created a deafening environment for the Stallions to visit.
“I can’t hear anything right now,” Stansbury coach Kenzie Newton said after the game. “It’s definitely a difference when you can get that home-court advantage in region play.”
Newton said the players were too timid on offense, and that led to the downfall.
“We didn’t want to attack the basket or really get after it offensively,” she said. “We didn’t have too many offensive rebounds. That’s been one of our strengths in the season so that hurt us a little bit.”
Newton noted the Dinos’ effective post play with Conforth.
“They went to her last play of the game and she finished it,” Newton said. “They crashed the boards hard. We knew that coming in. That was one of our focuses, but they’re a little bit bigger and stronger than us.”
Newton gave credit to the Dinos and their hard play. She said they played the Stallions’ weaknesses.
“They knew who our shooters were and covered them pretty well,” she said. “Erika (Alvey) had a hard time getting any shots off. They were on her, and we just struggled to get her the ball when she was open.”
Erika Alvey still led the Stallions in scoring with 10 points. The Stallions knew that the Dinos would likely hold for the last shot when they took a timeout with less than a minute to play. They had to get a stop no matter what, Newton said.
“I had a timeout,” she said. “We were going to pull it out and just get that last shot, and they did the same thing. They made the shot, and that’s sometimes what it comes down to.”
Newton praised her three seniors as they now exit the program, crediting this team’s chemistry to them.
“I’ve been so proud of them,” she said. “They’re the face of our basketball program right now. They’ve been here all four years and really devoted a lot of time and effort.”
Most of this year’s Stallions will be back next year, including three starters Madie Alvey, Bailey Wilson and Shyan Adams. Growth can happen from the losing feeling these players experienced, Newton said.
“You just tell them, ‘Hey, it’s not fun being here. Remember this feeling and know that you don’t want to be here again,’” she said. “Experience obviously is good. I think we played three or four sophomores during this game and a lot of juniors so the experience is critical. Last year we got killed in this game, and this year we’re right there. If we can just keep getting better, it should build.”
The Stallions held an 18-17 lead at the start of the third quarter, and Carbon opened with an 8-0 run. The Stallions spent the rest of the quarter fighting back, as Adams knocked down a jump shot on an assist from Erika Alvey to end the Dinos’ run. Madie Alvey dished an assist to Erika Alvey on a later possession that went down for a 3-pointer, cutting the Dinos’ lead to 25-24. The Dinos ended the Stallions’ brief run with a bucket for a 27-24 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The Dinos made the score 31- 24 in the fourth quarter before sophomore guard Rachel Prescott knocked down a 3-pointer. Erika Alvey knocked in a jumper to make the score 31-29, and then the Dinos’ Giovanna Chiara put in a layup. Madie Alvey scored her first points of the game on a fastbreak layup, and after two missed free throws by Conforth, Stansbury’s Kallie Stewart hit two free throws to tie the game at 33.
Erika Alvey had a chance to put the Stallions ahead with 1:24 on the clock, but she missed a 3-pointer. Madie Alvey picked up a steal on the following possession, but the Stallions couldn’t put the ball in the basket, which led to the eventual winning basket by Conforth.