RICHFIELD — It took one season for South Sevier to go from 2A title contender to obscurity.
A slow start this season caused the Rams to drop off the radar for a while. Even after winning the Region 15 crown earlier this month, South Sevier still did not draw much attention coming into the 2A girls basketball tournament.
That all should change after the Rams earned a 40-32 quarterfinal victory over Layton Christian on Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center.
South Sevier shut down an Eagle offense that averaged 53.9 points per game — the most among 2A schools — and limited Jasmine Porter — the top scorer in 2A — to just 12 points.
Containing Porter became top priority for South Sevier. The Rams knew they could not hold her completely in check. But they wanted to limit the damage she could do.
"We knew that she was going to be one of the keys to the game," South Sevier coach Stuart Hepworth said. "We game-planned around her and did our best to contain her. We played a triangle and two where we had one girl chasing her wherever she went — trying to keep the ball out of her hands."
The Eagles took an early 8-4 lead after Porter drained a 3-pointer for her first basket. She added a couple of layups to push Layton Christian's advantage to 14-11 with 1:20 left before halftime. Once Porter converted yet another layup to give the Eagles a 17-15 edge less than two minutes into the third quarter, however, the Rams came roaring to life.
Rachel Torgerson tied the game with a layup less than a minute later. Kayla King then followed with a pair of putback baskets that gave South Sevier a 21-17 lead with 3:07 left in the quarter.
From that point forward, each time Layton Christian made a push to overtake the Rams, it proved to be futile. Alissa Atisme scored a layup to cut it to 23-22 just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. South Sevier pushed the lead back to five on a jumper from Dayna Monroe and a layup off a steal from King.
The Eagles cut it back to a single possession game when Liz Dempsey converted a three-point play to make it 27-25. Monroe, who finished with 12 points, answered by sparking a decisive run for the Rams. She drained back-to-back jumpers, and the team never looked back.
Breaking in a new head coach and a new offense led to an uncharacteristic 4-7 start for South Sevier. But the Rams rebounded to claim the region title and now have run off nine victories in their last 10 games.
King thinks the latest one in that string of victories makes the biggest statement of all.
"We have wanted this forever because people have overlooked us," King said. "We just wanted to show them what we could do. We wanted it bad."
Those outside the team figured South Sevier was not the powerhouse it had been in past seasons because the program had undergone a plethora of offseason changes.
King said it took a while to adjust, but the team found a way to make all of the necessary adjustments.
"At the first of the season, it was a whole new offense," King said. "We had a new coach, so our offense was totally new. In the middle of the year, we started to get more experience and started to push along."