How do you win a basketball game when you only score one field goal in the entire second half?
Build a big first-half lead — and play impressive lockdown defense.
That was the recipe that the Lone Peak girls basketball team used to go to Westlake and hand the Thunder their first loss, 43-28, even though the Knights scored just 14 points after halftime (one 3-pointer and 11 free throws).
“What stayed consistent for us was our defense,” Lone Peak head coach Nancy Warner said. “Basketball is about momentum so when your defense stays consistent and you board, you are at least giving yourself opportunities without giving up more opportunities.”
The Knights got a key performance in the paint from junior center Maile Hunt.
“She was a huge factor,” Warner said. “Her length inside is what our defense centers around. She is our rim protector and that makes her a difference-maker, especially against Westlake’s size. She battled in there, even with getting two bloody noses.”
When asked about having to come out to stop the bleeding, Hunt grinned and said she wasn’t going to let it stop her for long.
“I was sprinting to the sideline, getting a tissue and then getting back out there,” she said.
She said that the credit for the way Lone Peak was able to slow down Westlake was that it didn’t just rely on her making plays.
“It was about team defense,” Hunt said. “Everyone has to help each other out. We were keeping and eye on the ball and our man so it didn’t go past our heads but it’s about team defense always.”
The Knights took advantage of their outside shooting — especially from the corner — to build a 15-point lead in the first half. Lone Peak hit five 3-pointers in the game while allowing just one.
“We made our shots, especially in the second quarter when we outscored them by 10 points,” Warner said. “We found a rhythm and hit from the corner. We were ready to shoot.”
But even though playing from behind isn’t a position Westlake has found itself in this season, the Thunder kept battling back.
Using their own defensive effort, the home team got the Knight lead to just six points at 34-28 and had a couple of chances to get even closer but simply couldn’t convert.
“They were well-prepared and did a terrific job,” Westlake head coach Mike O’Connor said. “We’ve got to execute better and make shots when it matters. They made their run and we started rushing things, but we settled down and chipped away at the lead. We had looks and opportunities.”
Lone Peak was then able to put the game away at the foul line, making 14-of-19 free throws including 9-of-10 after the Thunder got close.
The Knights were led by 13 points apiece from seniors Abby Conlee and Jane Leroy, while Westlake’s team effort was spearheaded by seven points from junior guard Halle Hester.
Warner said she looks on getting that win a big confidence booster for her squad.
“It’s huge for our momentum,” Warner said. “We knew that starting off at Westlake was a great test and winning was a great way to start region play. We want to ride that momentum and keep playing like this.”
O’Connor said his young, talented team will now have to bounce back.
“We’ve got to play with a little more urgency,” he said. “We competed but not at the same level as we have been playing. We know that in region play sometimes playing a ‘B’ game isn’t enough.”
Lone Peak (8-4, 1-0) next hosts American Fork on Friday while Westlake (12-1, 0-1) will play at Skyridge on the same day. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.