Rigby’s rally stuns Highland in 5A District 5-6 championship

Highland’s Makenna Baker (3) gets stuck between Rigby defenders Anna Fullmer (22) Ruby Murdoch (0) on the baseline during the 5A District 5-6 championship game Thursday at Highland High School.

Summer Dabell threw her arms toward the roof as Rigby’s fans rose to their feet.

There were 16 seconds left on the clock, and the gravity of the moment began setting in for the Trojans’ supporters. Highland dribbled down the court and missed a shot, allowing the Trojans to drain the remaining time. Rigby’s bench jumped up and down, and the celebration spilled onto the court after the Trojans’ 52-46 overtime win Thursday at Highland in the 5A District 5-6 championship game.

It is the Trojans’ first district title since 2012 when the team competed in 4A District 6.

“This feels amazing,” Rigby’s Ruby Murdoch said. “I want to thank the coaching staff and my teammates. We love each other so much, and it feels amazing to get a team win like this.”

Rigby trailed 38-34 after three quarters of play and rebounded to outscore the Rams 9-5 in the fourth quarter and 9-3 in overtime. Rigby held Highland to 3 of 13 from the floor and forced five turnovers during that span. The Rams had four combined turnovers in the first three frames.

The Rams have finished second in the district five seasons in a row.

Rigby took its first lead of the game, 40-38, on a Mateya Mobley layup with 4 minutes, 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Rams never regained the lead despite the score being tied at two different points over the final 2:18 of the fourth.

Murdoch connected on an and-one with 1:29 left in the fourth to put Rigby ahead 43-40. Highland’s Mallori Vawdrey responded 26 seconds later, tying the game 43-43 with a 3-pointer.

The Rams regained possession with under one minute to play, but the Rams did not get a shot off before time expired in the fourth. Rigby used three fouls to prevent the Rams from setting their offense.

Highland had three inbound plays over the final 24.6 seconds, including the final one with 2.7 seconds remaining.

“We had some fouls to give,” Rigby coach Troy Shippen said. “We wanted to foul before they got to the hoop. We wanted to take time off, put pressure on.”

Mobley’s and-one put Rigby ahead 46-43 in overtime, and the Rams did not get closer than three points the rest of the way. The Trojans made 7 of 12 free throws in overtime, including a pair from Tylie Jones to seal the win.

“They are free points,” Shippen said. “We have confidence there.”

Highland’s second-half cold streak allowed Rigby to overcome a 26-20 halftime deficit. The Rams shot 9 of 21 from the field in the first half before closing the second half and overtime 6 of 27 from the field.

Highland went 1 of 9 in the extra period and had more turnovers (four) than made shots (two) in the fourth quarter.

“We wanted to contest every shot,” Shippen said. “Defense wins tournaments and this was an example of that. Defense has been our mode of operation all season.”

The Rams stalled offensively when Rigby locked down Makenna Baker. The senior guard had 12 points at halftime on 3-of-5 shooting, and the Trojans limited Baker to eight points the rest of the way on seven shots.

Baker hit a 3-pointer with 11.1 seconds left in the third and did not score again until there were 40 seconds remaining in overtime. Baker finished with a game-high 20 points.

“We knew Makenna Baker is very athletic, and we had a plan to shut her down,” Murdoch said. “We held our composure very well.”

Murdoch led the Trojans with 16 points, including 10 points after halftime. The junior scored five points in the fourth quarter and helped defend Baker for parts of the game.

“Ruby plays with so much heart,” Shippen said.

Highland led by as many as eight points in the first quarter and by as many as 11 in the second quarter. The Rams were outscored 37-20 over the final 20:59 of the game, losing for the second time in five matchups with Rigby this season.

All five of the teams’ games have been decided by eight points or fewer.

Michael Guise

Idaho State Journal

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