TAYLORSVILLE — Karlie Valdez had the ball, the space on the floor and an “eternity” on the clock. All she had to do when she got the basket was to take the shot.
Valdez doesn’t know what she’ll call the shot, if it was a hook or a runner or a scoop. For Fremont, all that matters is it went in.
The Silver Wolves’ senior guard dribbled the length of the floor and hit a game-winning runner with one second left, giving Fremont (21-2) a dramatic 48-46 win over Riverton in the 6A state tournament quarterfinals Wednesday that capped a 16-point comeback.
“I didn’t even watch it, I’m just so excited and I saw it go through,” Valdez said in the minutes after the game.
Karlie Valdez with the drive. 1 second left, Fremont leads 48-46. Riverton ball pic.twitter.com/ATDiSthBE2— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) February 23, 2018
Riverton’s Kaitlin Burgess hit a corner 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left to tie the game 46-46 and for a moment, Fremont’s missed chances and turnovers in the prior minutes seemed poised to haunt the Silver Wolves (Fremont’s mascot is the Silver Wolves and Riverton’s is the Silverwolves).
But 9.2 seconds, as Valdez and head coach Lisa Dalebout said, is an eternity.
“We were playing really timid and when she went in (in the first half), I thought she gave us a lot of — I don’t know if courage is the right word — but people played more emboldened when she got in the game,” Dalebout said.
Valdez, who scored 10 points, got the ball, sprinted down the court and the paint seemed to open up enough for her to get a running shot off from a few feet away that went in with exactly one second left.
Riverton had a chance but the buzzer sounded before the Silverwolves could get a shot off and Fremont’s players consequently lost their collective minds, jumping and shouting and celebrating with their fans.
Fremont 48, Riverton 46. Final. Silver Wolves advance to tomorrow's semi against Westlake. Came back from 16 down. Wow pic.twitter.com/KC5gRdXkdy— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) February 23, 2018
Fremont knew Riverton would lean on Iowa State-signee Morgan Kane inside and try to get Silver Wolves freshman post Emma Calvert in foul trouble. That is exactly what happened.
Kane, playing with stitches on the right side of her lips from a knock in Tuesday’s first-round game, had 14 points in the first half and two and-one calls, both against Calvert who went to the bench with two fouls.
Kane scored 22 points with 14 rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting and made all eight of her free throws.
The second and-one against Calvert gave Riverton a 27-11 lead and up to that point, Fremont hadn’t done much to suggest it would hang around much longer.
But Berkley Larsen drove right at Kane and got a bucket and foul, sending Kane to the bench with two fouls.
That’s when Fremont made its move, a 12-3 run that included six-straight made free throws by Mazzie Melaney and Haylee Doxey, who each played all 32 minutes.
The blueprint for the comeback was drawn nearly three weeks ago in a double-overtime 57-52 win at Northridge.
In that game, the Knights led 13-2 after one quarter, but Fremont brought the deficit to a manageable seven points at halftime, 24-17.
Riverton led 18-9 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 27-11 before Kane went to the bench with two fouls. The Silver Wolves’ ensuing 12-3 run trimmed the halftime deficit to 30-23, the same, manageable seven points.
From there, the teams traded buckets and Valdez got a friendly bounce on a drive that cut Riverton’s lead to 41-35 heading to the fourth quarter.
Freshman Halle Duft scored nine points with two 3-pointers and was critical on defense in keeping RHS’s shooters at bay in the second half.
But it was Calvert who gave Fremont its first lead of the game, 42-41, on a put-back with 4:52 left in the game after the Silver Wolves had held Riverton scoreless since late in the third quarter.
After the put-back, Melaney drove to the basket and scored, then made two free throws later to make it 46-43. The Fremont senior scored 10 points and vitally went a perfect 8 of 8 from the foul line.
“It was super intense, when we were down, I just feel like all of us knew that we could come back. We had faith in each other,” Melaney said.
Just when it seemed like Fremont was going to go to the line to ice the game, the Silverwolves struck again with Burgess’ 3-pointer.
But 9.2 seconds is an eternity.
What Valdez did in those 9.2 seconds will give the Silver Wolves 32 more minutes at 5:50 p.m. Friday against Westlake with a ticket to the championship game on the line.