Liberty’s girls basketball program has reigned atop the Sunrise Region the past four years.
Rae Burrell helped Foothill bring that dynasty to a screeching halt Saturday.
Burrell, a junior, scored 11 of Foothill’s final 14 points to lead the Falcons to a come-from-behind 55-52 victory over Liberty in the Class 4A Sunrise Region championship at Canyon Springs.
The Falcons (19-8) will play in the Class 4A state semifinals for the first time since 2012 and had lost to Liberty in the region title game each of the last three years.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Burrell, who finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. “We’ve been working really hard to get where we got today, and I’m just so proud of my team.”
The Falcons shot a dismal 10-for-32 (31.2 percent) through the first three quarters, but responded by hitting 7 of 13 attempts in the final quarter.
“When we started moving the ball through everybody is when we started getting buckets,” said Foothill coach Laura Allen, whose team committed 18 turnovers through three quarters and just two in the fourth. “Kylie Vint over here knocking down shots, Keilani (Brown) on the boards, it was an all-around team effort. And then Rae just going hard to the basket.”
Liberty, which shot 20-for-58 (34.4 percent) for the game, hit just 4 of 12 in the final period and will face Spring Valley at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Valley for the final state tournament berth.
After Liberty’s Amanda Pemberton missed a layup with 2:01 left in the game, Burrell put the Falcons ahead with two free throws. Moments later, Foothill’s Rhianna Cox hit 1 of 2 from the line to give the Falcons a 50-48 lead.
Senior Kaily Kaimikaua drained a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to put the Patriots (30-2) back on top, 51-50. But Burrell answered with a 3-pointer only 14 seconds later to give Foothill a 53-51 edge.
After a turnover, Burrell missed two free throws, and Liberty’s London Pavlica made 1 of 2 from the line with 6.3 seconds to play.
Burrell then made two free throws to make it 55-52 before Celine Quintino’s last-second 3-point attempt missed, allowing Foothill to escape with the win.
After trailing for most of the first half, Liberty used a 23-9 run in the second half to open a 42-30 lead with 6:48 left in the game. Behind Burrell, Trinity Betoney and Vint, Foothill clawed its way back, cutting the deficit to three points when Patriots’ leading scorer Dre’una Edwards fouled out with 2:32 to go.
Edwards, who had 20 points and six rebounds, departed just as Burrell and the Falcons were making one last push.
“We started passing more and controlling the game more and getting better shots off, instead of just getting shots off,” Burrell said. “I was kind of pushing it too much, and we needed to calm down and get it together. We just needed to slow down.”