The Lehi girls basketball team found itself needing to make a run late in Thursday evening’s 4A quarterfinal game against Green Canyon at SUU in Cedar City.
The Pioneers had fallen behind when the Wolves made a big push in the second period and trailed by as many as eight points in the third period.
But this Lehi team knew the game was far from over.
The Pioneers kept chipping away at the deficit, eventually taking the lead by scoring seven straight points and then putting the game away at the free throw line, earning the 58-55 victory and a spot in Friday’s semifinals.
“It honestly came down to toughness,” Lehi head coach Aubrey Van Pelt said in a phone interview. “We got stops when we needed to get stops. Green Canyon did good job of being all over us, making us dig and find ways to do things on offensive end. I knew it would be that way. I knew it would come down to the last little bit. I’m so proud of the girls. They fought and fought.”
She said every one of her girls contributed but that senior forward Maddie Lindsay came up big for the Pioneers in the final minutes of the game.
“Maddie Lindsay was clutch,” Van Pelt said. “Maddie was huge in those last possessions. We had so many contributions but her defense and free throws gave us the lead and the momentum.”
Lehi had some tough moments early in the game, so Van Pelt said the emphasis was on limiting the Wolf offense.
“We struggled offensively for the first little bit,” she said. “I told them the shots would fall eventually but we have to get stops. The last quarter would come down to who played better defense and got rebounds. We were down by six points at halftime but I told them six points is nothing. I don’t think they checked out. They kept trusting each other.”
When they had to make plays, the Pioneers came through.
“We got stops when we needed to get stops,” Van Pelt said. “Then we got free throws at the end. It was a team effort.”
She said returning the the 4A semifinals is a rewarding experience for the entire program.
“It feels so good,” Van Pelt said. “These guys have worked so hard to get back to that spot and they deserve it. Green Canyon played phenomenal but these guys earned that moment. I’m so excited for them. They truly shine in underdog situations.”
With the victory, Lehi advances to play the winner of the Cedar City-Stansbury quarterfinal. The Pioneers are scheduled to play at SUU in Cedar City at 2:30 p.m. for a berth in the 4A state championship game.