RICHFIELD — South Sevier's student section knows how to put a smile on sophomore Race Parsons' face.
Late in the Rams' 50-34 win over Millard in the 2A semifinals on Friday night, South Sevier's students said in unison, "We got Race! In your face!" And that of course, is much more creative than "warm up the bus."
"I love our student body," Parsons said. "They're just great."
South Sevier's students feel the same about Parsons, especially when he plays like he did against the Eagles. Parsons scored South Sevier's first 10 points and had 16 of the team's 19 points in the first half. He finished with a game-high 23 points.
Parsons outscored Millard by himself in the first three quarters, 18-16.
"He's been a stabilizing factor for us throughout the season," said South Sevier coach Scott Hunt.
The Rams certainly needed him to be early in Friday's game. South Sevier struggled with Millard — a team it beat by 24 and 30 points in two games during the regular season — for much of the first half. The Rams seemed a little jittery and nervous, and Parsons got them through the tough stretch.
Hunt said the slow start was due to Millard's full-court pressure, and possibly because of how easily South Sevier defeated the Eagles during the preseason.
"Sometimes that gives you a false sense of security," Hunt said. "This late in the season, they're a different team."
Millard was improved, but so is South Sevier. The Rams showed how dominant they can be in the third quarter against the Eagles, holding them to just one basket in the entire period. South Sevier's offense found some balance with Patrick Baker and Kaden King each hitting a 3-pointer.
"We had to take a deep breath and calm down," Hunt said. "In the second half, I thought we did a great job of running some stuff and getting some looks."
The Rams will play South Summit in the 2A championship game on Saturday. The Wildcats ended South Sevier's perfect season in the semifinals last season before moving on to win the state title. South Summit was expected to reach the title game, while South Sevier is more of a surprise.
The Rams only returned one starter from last year in Parsons, who isn't shocked that South Sevier is playing for a championship on Saturday.
"I love our team," Parsons said. "Our team success is based on hard-nosed kids and I thought we'd be at this point. We got a lot of heart and we want to win every night."