© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
Haley Bodnar finished her high school career as a state champion. In action tonight in Cedar City, Utah, Desert Hills used a balanced attack to beat Morgan in the UHSAA 3A state championship game, 57-43.
Bodnar scored six of her teams first eight points before going to the bench midway through the first quarter with two fouls. She scored on a short jumper, a jump hook, and a quick layup off a dump from a slashing guard. Morgan played aggressive defense all over the court, and drew the first foul on Bodnar by taking the ball right to her. The foul that sent her to the bench was a questionable over the back call on a rebound attempt.
Desert Hills expanded the lead with Bodnar on the bench, and it was 24-13 before Bodnar entered the game at the 4:00 mark of the second quarter. Morgan was successful in slowing the Desert Hills offense in the second quarter by applying a 2-2-1 press, then mixed in some 1-3-1 pressure. The two teams ended the half with Desert Hills up 29-18.
At the half, Bodnar had six points, four rebounds, three blocks, one assist and two fouls in about seven minutes of play.
The third quarter was played at a frantic offensive pace, and Morgan threatened to close the deficit quickly. Desert Hills' first basket of the second half came off a back screen from Bodnar to make it 32-23. Bodnar picked up her third foul midway through the third, but was kept in the game. And for good reason, as she would score her teams next four points.
Morgan's pressure was frustrating Desert Hills, but Bodnar broke loose and burned the Morgan zone press for a layup. She then found an opening on the baseline on the following play and hit a 15-footer, leading to a Morgan timeout with 2:43 to play in the third quarter and the score at 41-34 in favor of Desert Hills. Desert Hills ended the third with a 49-37 lead. Haley Bodnar had ten points, six rebounds, four blocks, one assist, one steal and three fouls through three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter turned out to be the opposite of the third, as nothing would fall for Morgan from the field or the line. It was over three minutes before either team scored, when the drought was broken by a turnaround jumper by Bodnar in the post to make it 51-37. With just under four minutes to go, Desert Hills began to spread the court, and slowly cruised to the 57-43 win.
Unofficially, Haley Bodnar finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, five blocked shots, two steals, one assist and three fouls. When the defense would double her, she would draw the two defenders out of the lane where the Desert Hill guards had open runs to the basket. She was rarely challenged in the paint by the Morgan offense much past the first quarter. She screens well, setting back screens and high post picks rather flawlessly.
Desert Hills guard Blair Bliss led all scorers with 17 points. The Desert Hills Thunder finished the season 25-1, with the state championship that had just slipped from their grasp the previous two seasons.