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Williams’ 3 gives Ririe girls district title

The Ririe High School girls basketball team, coaches and students celebrate on the court after the Bulldogs defeated West Jefferson 33-31 for the 2A District 6 title Saturday at South Fremont High School. Marlowe Hereford / mhereford@postregister.com

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

ST. ANTHONY — The 3-point shot Ririe sophomore Indee Williams released with three seconds left Saturday made time stand still in an otherwise footrace of a 2A District 6 girls basketball title game.

When the ball left her fingers, the Bulldogs trailed West Jefferson 31-30. When it completed its descent and hit nylon to flip the score to 33-31 Ririe, the Bulldog faithful erupted in deafening cheers that made the floor shake in South Fremont High School’s gym.

After a final heave by West Jefferson left the score unchanged, the built up adrenaline from Williams’ shot became all out pandemonium for the Bulldogs at the final buzzer. The Bulldogs ran toward each other, head coach Damien Smith left the bench to jump into them and the student section spilled onto the court.

Williams’ 3 was Ririe’s only basket of the fourth quarter, and it gave the Bulldogs the win in the 2A District 6 if-necessary title game that featured three lead changes, several runs and numerous rallies.

“I’m still so full of adrenaline,” said Williams, who led Ririe (20-4) with a game high 13 points. “I had confidence, but I was hoping it would go in. At first, I was thinking, ‘I’ll just drive.’ But then I got open.”

For Smith, watching that shot was a bit more nerve wracking.

“I know I have some pulse left, but I don’t know about a voice,” Smith said with a laugh. “I was thinking, ‘Please go in.’ I knew somebody would hit a 3 at some point. It’s what we do. ‘Find a way.’ That’s what I kept telling them.”

‘Find a way’ could have summed up both team’s approaches in Saturday’s winner-take-all district title game that was forced when West Jefferson defeated Ririe on Thursday. The stifling defense that powered the Panthers to victory two days earlier was on display early Saturday, as steals and defensive rebounds turned into a 7-0 lead four minutes in and a 10-5 lead after the first quarter.

A basket for basket battle ensued in the second quarter. West Jefferson senior Allie Severe, who had 18 points in Thursday’s game, sank her third 3 of Saturday’s contest with 4:27 left in the first half to give the Panthers their largest lead of 17-10. Williams, Anna Boone and Halley Guthrie then scored a combined 10 unanswered to give Ririe a 20-17 halftime lead.

Aside from a 3-pointer by West Jefferson’s Morgan Laird that tied the game 40 seconds into the second half, Ririe stayed ahead and entered the fourth quarter up 30-22. Severe, Laird and Jordi Holdaway then sent the Panthers on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter and go up 31-30. The score stayed unchanged for three and a half minutes until Williams hit the game winner.

The win had some history tied in, as Ririe became the first Nuclear Conference girls basketball team to repeat as district champions since Butte County went back to back in 2006 and 2007.

“That says a lot about our conference,” Smith said. “You have to bring your best game in the Nuke.”

Kenadee Coles added five points for Ririe, which begins the 2A state tournament against Malad at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. Severe finished with 11 points (nine from 3s) while Laird added eight and Holdaway had seven for West Jefferson (21-5), which opens against Soda Springs at 1:15 p.m. Thursday. Both games take place at Kuna High School.

“The emotions were high,” West Jefferson coach Jalena Dixon said. “My girls played hard. For a lot of them, this was their first time playing for a district championship.”

Ririe graduated seven from last year’s state championship team, but Williams said that team, of which older sister Haddi was a member, inspired this year’s Bulldogs.

“They set great examples of the will and effort it takes to win,” Williams said.

RIRIE 33, WEST JEFFERSON 31
Ririe 5 15 10 3—33
West Jefferson 10 7 5 9—31
RIRIE (33)—Indee Williams 13, Kenadee Coles 5, Maddie Johnson 4, Anna Boone 4, Halley Guthrie 4, Eden Griffith 3. FG: 14. FT: 2-3. 3-pointers: 3 (Williams 1, Coles 1, Griffith 1). Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: none.
WEST JEFFERSON (31)—Morgan Laird 8, Allie Severe 11, Jordi Holdaway 7, Saige Kirkpatrick 1, Chloe Moss 2, Saige Moss 2. FG: 11. FT: 4-8. 3-pointers: 5 (Laird 2, Severe 3). Total fouls: 11. Fouled out: Kirkpatrick

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