ST. ANTHONY-- The No. 1 seeded Ririe boys basketball team looked to make it three consecutive titles in the 2A District 6 championship game on Wednesday night, but needed to find some answers against a No. 2 seeded North Fremont squad that seemed poised for the upset.
It took some time, but by the middle of the third quarter, the Bulldogs found what they were looking for as Larz Sutton attacked the basket and Michael Ure as well, despite playing with a bloody nose and three fouls midway through the second half.
The Bulldogs (22-1) broke open a one-point game and pulled away for a 54-42 victory over the Huskies. North Fremont (17-6), which had already reached its second consecutive state tournament, couldn’t contain Ririe in the second half as the Bulldogs again celebrated by cutting down the nets.
“We have always owned the third quarter,” Ririe coach Eric Torgerson said. “They did such a good job taking us out of our game so we knew we had to force the issue … even when Michael doesn’t score points, he draws so much attention these other guys can get the offense going.”
Sutton, a senior guard, was able to dribble drive and penetrate against the Huskies defense and North Fremont struggled to adjust. The game was tied at 22-22 at the half, but Sutton’s spinning layup was part of a 17-7 run by the Bulldogs at the end of the third quarter and leading into the fourth. He scored nine straight points for Ririe as the Bulldogs built their lead to 46-36 and never looked back.
“We knew we had to push the ball,” Sutton said, adding there were adjustments in the third.
Sutton finished with 24 points and Ure added 15 for Ririe.
“Defensively we tried to do some different things tonight, but toward the end of the third quarter we started breaking down on that,” Huskies coach Shannon Hill said. “They executed down the stretch a little better than we did and that was the difference.”
North Fremont was physical underneath the basket, but couldn’t maintain it late in the game. Garrett Hawkes finished with 17 points and matched up with Ure, who is among the area’s top scorers at 22 points per game.
Hill noted they tried to get the 6-foot-7 Ure away from the basket, but that strategy wasn’t always successful.
“Overall, I’m very happy and impressed with our performance defensively,” Hill said, adding the loss didn’t diminish the program’s big-picture success of advancing to the state tournament. This is the first time in program history North Fremont has reached state in back-to-back years, per Post Register records.
“We’re a very hungry and humble team,” he said. “We’re hungry to do things for our school that have never been done.”
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