Ken Fujii's patient offensive attack is time and title tested. But even he was a little bewildered after his Eureka team scored just three points in the opening quarter of Saturday's girls Division IV state championship game.
So at Fujii's behest, the Vandals turned up the defense and rolled to a 48-30 victory over two-time defending state champion Pahranagat Valley at the Orleans Arena.
"We got it going with our defense," Fujii said. "That's been our trademark. That got us going and got us some easy baskets."
With the defense holding the Panthers at bay, Natalie Norcutt took over the scoring duties. The junior utilized a number of different jump shots to lead the Vandals to their first state championship since 1987.
"This is a great accomplishment. I'm so proud to say we went out there and played our hearts out," said Norcutt, who blamed the big stage and cavernous arena for her team's slow start.
"This is a big environment. We came out and were pretty nervous," Norcutt added. "We managed to pull it together and this feels great, a state championship."
Senior Melissa Damele and sophomore Shara Green each added 10 points for Eureka, which closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run and then outscored the Panthers, 17-7, in the final period to secure the title after falling short the previous three years.
For Fujii, this is his fifth championship as a coach. He won four at Reno High in the 1980s.
"This is the best one so far," Fujii said, "because it's the most recent."