By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Two Class 5A girls basketball teams entered the postseason undefeated. just one of them made it through championship week unscathed, but not without a little bit of controversy. The Layton state championship is story No. 4 in our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year.
#4 – Bassett and Layton run the table
If you look strictly at the numbers (12-0 in Region 2, 25-0 overall), it was a fantastic season for the Layton High girls basketball team and one of the year’s top stories. Add in a little controversy, a high-profile semifinal battle and one of the state’s top players delivering on the biggest stage and you have the No. 4 story of the year.
Senior Hailey Bassett had her biggest game of the year in the state championship matchup with Sky View and that’s saying something for the 5A MVP, who averaged 19.36 points and 7.64 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-2 center dropped 35 and 13 on the Bobcats as Layton finished off its perfect season with a 73-65 victory.
For Bassett, the state title was the culmination of a four-year commitment. When her grandfather, who had been one of the coaches along her basketball journey, suffered a heart attack and died in January of 2013, she set a goal to honor him and in delivering a career high on the biggest stage, she reached that goal.
She was at her best down the stretch when she scored 13 consecutive points to help the Lancers turn a one-point lead into a double-digit advantage in the last four minutes of the game. With Clara Wood, Sunnie Martinez and Livia Borges and the rest of the Lancers filling their roles expertly, this senior-laden squad held off every Sky View run to lock up their title.
Controversy and The Battle of Unbeatens
Believe it or now, the championship game was just the dessert on top of the main event that took place the night before as two undefeated teams faced off in the semifinal round. Layton and Copper Hills staged an overtime classic that featured a little bit of everything.
It didn’t appear to be a classic at the outset as the Lancers scored the game’s first seven points and took a 15-3 advantage less than six minutes in. At the end of the opening stanza, Layton held a 17-8 lead and the Grizzlies had work to do.
That’s when high-scoring Shirsten Wissinger and defensive stopper Ashley Hodge stepped up to bring Copper Hills fighting back as it held the Lancers to just six second-quarter points to cut the deficit to one by intermission, at 23-22. The door swung wide open for the Grizzlies in the third when Layton caught a bad break.
After picking up her third foul midway through the third, Bassett was called for No. 4 while her substitute kneeled at the scorer’s table still waiting for a stoppage of play to substitute in. The game was tied at the time. After her 3-pointer put Copper Hills on top, Wissinger joined Bassett in a spectator’s role when she picked up her fourth foul.
Wood stepped up while Bassett waited and kept the Lancers in the game and the teams eventually neared the end of regulation level at 38-38. That’s when things got a bit strange. First, with eight seconds left, Wissinger put the ball on the deck to back down her opponent on the way to the basket, but she was whistled for an offensive foul and never got the chance to attempt a game-winning shot.
The teams went to the extra session tied at 38-38, but the Grizzlies had to move forward without their top scorer and leader. Enter, oddity No. 2.
When the teams lined up for the overtime tip, the officials allowed the players to line up facing the wrong direction. The Lancers controlled the tap and set up to run a play facing the wrong basket. It took more than 10 seconds for anyone to realize what was happening, but when the Layton coaches noticed, they called out to their players to take it the other way.
Wood finally realized what was happening and she ran out towards the Lancer hoop, received a lead-out pass from Martinez and laid it in for the early overtime lead. Copper Hills raised a protest after the game regarding the alignment for the start of overtime, but UHSAA officials denied it, stating it would have needed to have been made during the game, not after it was over.
Borges delivered some big plays in the extra period on a day when she had played a soccer game in the morning, IN ARIZONA. Meantime, Bassett finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds in the semifinals to hold off Wissinger’s game-high 22.
Following the state championship win, Layton earned the No. 25 spot in the final USA Today Super 25 national rankings.
TOSH Top 30 stories of the year: