LAYTON — See you again Thursday.
Layton High girls basketball went on an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to flip Tuesday’s vital regular-season finale against Weber in its favor.
The result was a 48-41 win that means Tuesday’s game wasn’t the actual last regular-season game of the year: that will come Thursday for one team and later for another.
Since they’re tied in the region standings at 6-6 AND there’s one last playoff spot up for grabs, Layton (13-7, 6-6 Region 1) and Weber (13-8, 6-6) will get a day of practice Wednesday and square up again at 6 p.m. Thursday at Layton High with the winner facing top-seeded Bingham next Monday in the state playoffs.
Soak it in, because winner-take-all play-in games will be ancient history next year when the current playoff qualifying system is replaced by an all-comers state tournament seeded by RPI.
If teams and players were nervous given the stakes Tuesday, then Thursday might be Tuesday’s nerves multiplied by 10.
Senior Meg Edwards led the Lancers with 15 points and had six in a fourth quarter where Layton outscored Weber 18-9.
Before that, the two teams were rarely separated by more than two points until the final two minutes.
“Finally, we put a couple stops together and then we came down and we executed the offense. We got some good shots and started to work it inside,” Layton head coach Rob Reisbeck said.
The key basket was a Brenda Gallegos layup against the press to put Layton up 40-35 after Sarah Pollard’s and-one layup cut the lead to three the previous possession.
The Lancers, to that point, had looked shaky against the press, so the layup forced the initiative back on Weber.
Gallegos and Abbey Nelson finished with nine points apiece for Layton. Pollard scored all 10 of her points in the second half for the Warriors.
Both teams struggled making shots inside early on, but not outside. Nelson and Paige Aardema traded 3-pointers in the first half and Nelson made a trey before halftime to give the Lancers a 23-22 lead into the break.
Aardema made four 3-pointers in the first half and had the hot hand, but a tactical change by Layton cooled it. The Lancers face-guarded Aardema the rest of the game with Atley Thompson.
First-half points for Aardema: 12. The rest of the game: zero.
“She is our best defender and I knew just putting (Thompson) on her that Aardema’s going to have to really work to score,” Reisbeck said.
That gave Layton time to figure out how to score against Weber’s zone defense with something other than an outside shot. Nothing really worked as the Warriors forced bad shots and turnovers inside.
“That’s been our whole season, that’s how it’s been,” Edwards said. “We just realized we can’t let it affect us. At halftime we had a good talk about not freaking out when we’re under, playing inside-out and everything.”
Eventually, the inside buckets started to flow and Weber, prone to scoring droughts, went through one at a bad time and couldn’t make up the deficit.
“We talked about it in the locker room, ‘Get your heads up, nothing to feel bad about, we’ve got another shot, just pick yourself up and fight.’ That’s been who we’ve been all year, we’ve had a lot of fight in us,” Weber head coach Mark Hansen said.
The host of the play-in game is determined on a head-to-head tiebreak (and thus a tiebreak against common opponents), according to the region bylaws.
Weber and Layton split both their contests so the next factor is record against the top region teams. They each lost both games to Fremont, but Layton split against Davis and the Warriors were swept by the Darts.
So will it be the Layton team who’s a postseason mainstay, or a Weber team looking for its first postseason appearance since 2012? Enjoy the dramatic regular-season finale while it still exists.