TAYLORSVILLE — For Pleasant Grove senior Janae Olson, upsetting the Lone Peak Knights in the first round of the girls' 5A state tournament was "the best thing ever."
The 5-foot-10 guard hit four crucial free throws in the final 1:16 of the game to clinch the 54-50 victory at the Salt Lake Community College and a chance at the Bingham Miners in the second round.
The Vikings had already suffered two losses at the hands of Lone Peak during Region 4 play — a 26-point drubbing in January and a heartbreaking loss by six less than two weeks ago — but Pleasant Grove knew it was hard to beat the same team three times in a row.
"They beat us twice in region, but we came in confident," Olson said. "We came back hard and we got it done."
Pleasant Grove jumped out to an early advantage as Danyele Hoffman nailed two long 3-pointers in the first three minutes to set the tone, and the Vikings led 15-9 by the end of the first eight minutes.
Hoffman continued her dominance throughout the contest, scoring both inside and out to ultimately record a game-high 19 points.
"She really stepped up," Olson said of her senior teammate. "She's a leader and everyone plays better because of her. She was definitely a momentum changer today."
Each team matched their own first-quarter point total in the second period and the Vikings withstood a mini run by the Knights to hold onto a 30-18 lead at halftime. They knew, however, Lone Peak wasn't going to bow out quietly.
"I told them at halftime, every good team makes a run," Pleasant Grove head coach Glenn Larson said.
He was right.
The Knights battled their way back, scoring 20 points in the third quarter and pulling to within one point with 4:45 remaining. Senior Marquelle Funk led the way for the Knights with 15 points.
"Each time we had a timeout, Danyele said, 'that was their run. That was their run, it's over now.' She kept us going," Larson said.
Pleasant Grove responded to Hoffman's reassurance by hitting key free throws down the stretch.
With 1:40 left, junior Britney Johnson, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, drew the fifth foul on Lone Peak's Whitney Johnson, who scored just eight points in the game. Britney Johnson hit the first free throw in the one-and-one situation, giving the Vikings a game-saving three-point cushion.
Olson, who scored all 10 of her points from the foul line, hit three of them in the next 30 seconds before Funk banked in a desperation 3-pointer to remain within striking distance. Olson added her final foul shot with 30 seconds on the clock to make the score 54-50, and the Knights couldn't draw iron again.
"It feels just like last year," Larson said, referring to winning big games against both Bingham and American Fork before finishing second to Syracuse in the 2010 state tournament.
Olson added, "We're excited to play Bingham (on Wednesday); we have a lot of momentum. We had a good first half today. Now we just have to have a great second half, too."
Pleasant Grove's Kourtney Dinehart, who missed Saturday's play-in game because of a seizure suffered during warm-ups started Monday's game against Lone Peak. She was immediately replaced though as she continues to feel week. Doctors aren't sure yet what cause her seizure.