SALT LAKE CITY – “Where did the offense go?”
That was the question on the minds of Lone Peak girls basketball fans after Wednesday’s 47-40 loss to No. 7 Copper Hills in the Class 6A quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center.
After scoring 19 points in the first quarter, the No. 2 seed Knights managed just 21 the rest of the way, wilting under the pressure of the Grizzlies press and superior size inside.
“There were a lot of things we needed to do to get back on track,” Lone Peak coach Nancy Warner said. “I think that was the worst defense we’ve ever played. Our defense really fuels our offense and we weren’t in position to get the stops we needed to. We couldn’t finish on the offensive end, so it was a culmination of both ends of the floor not working together.”
Freshman Kailey Woolston got hot in the first quarter, scoring nine points as Lone Peak raced to a 19-10 advantage. But that was the highlight for the Knights on the offensive end. Woolsten barely touched the ball over the next three quarters as Copper Hills surged ahead and couldn’t be caught.
Lone Peak, which sent undefeated in Region 4 play (10-0) and had won 11 games in a row, just could never get in sync on the offensive end.
“We just didn’t show up and match the intensity that they were giving us,” Warner said. “We let the moment overtake us a little bit and didn’t find a way to step up when we needed to execute when we needed to, or get a stop when we needed to or get a rebound when we needed to. Credit Copper Hills. They came out fighting and they are a great team.”
Lone Peak leading scorer Jane Leroy, who averages nearly 12 points per game, finished with just two on 1-9 from the field and suffered six turnovers under the harassment of Grizzlies guard Eleyana Tafisi, who scored 13 points, dished out three assists and nabbed four steals.
Copper Hills scored the first eight points of the third quarter to tie the game at 26-all at the 3:16 mark. A Tafisi free throw pushed the Grizzlies on top at 27-26 then a 3-point play by Abby Conlee allowed Lone Peak to get back on top 29-27. But Copper Hills scored twice before the end of the quarter and Amelia Brady’s layup gave the Grizzlies a 31-29 advantage heading into the fourth.
Makale Easton made a 3-pointer to bring the Knights to within one at 33-32, but Tafisi broke down the Lone Peak defense twice for layups for a 37-32 lead with 5:26 to play. The Grizzlies made enough free throws to hold on for the seven-point win.
An ankle injury to steady freshman guard Makeili Ika in the third quarter was also a setback for the Knights.
Woolston led Lone Peak (18-5) with 13 points and Conlee added nine points and eight rebounds.
“They are great group of girls and I’m going to miss them a lot,” Warner said of her team. “More than anything it was just a great senior group. I asked them to start the year if they wanted to be pushed, and they wanted to. They were pushed and they rose to the occasion and worked their butts off every single day, It’s hard to see them in the locker room like this and end this way, but I am proud of what they did in region. Hopefully that’s just something our younger ones can learn from and hopefully bring back to be tougher next year.”
Carlin Shepherd paced Copper Hills (18-7) with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies dominated on the board (48-32) and earned extra chances with 17 offensive rebounds.
Copper Hills will play the Westlake-Bingham winner in Friday’s 6A semifinals.