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TAYLORSVILLE — The Mountain Crest Mustangs were trailing 31-26 at halftime.
No. 3-ranked Salem Hills had carried the momentum for much of the half and Mountain Crest head coach Candace Thornton posed one simple question.
"What are you going to do about it?"
It's one thing to want a win; it's another to make the necessary changes to get that win. Thornton was well aware of her team's desire but knew it would take more. "I said to them at halftime 'I know you all want to win — the problem is, so do they. Wanting it isn't enough, what are you going to do about it?'"
The Mustangs came out blazing in the third, "showing" that they wanted it more as they outscored the SkyHawks 23-10 in the quarter. The incredible surge ultimately earned them advancement to the semifinal round with a 61-54 victory.
"Every single girl on the floor and on the bench … they rose to the occasion," Thornton said. "Everyone fulfilled their roles."
The Mustangs struggled early on and free throws became their first-half saving grace. They went 12-of-15 from the line. Salem Hills outshot them from the field in the half, shooting 46 percent compared to the Mustangs' 24 percent.
The SkyHawks' leading scorer, Lyssa Hanks, put up eight points in the half. She was held scoreless in the second, however, thanks to Mountain Crest's Karlee Kartchner and tight guard defense on the passes inside.
"It's always tough coming up against someone that tall," Kartchner said. "I tried not to get into foul trouble, play straight up, and box out." Using those solid fundamentals as a remedy, she was able to not only shut down Hanks, but became the key ingredient to the amazing rally.
Kartchner put on a show, earning the double-double with 23 points and 16 rebounds — an incredible feat considering who she was up against.
Missy Belliston, the orchestrator of Salem Hills' offense, was subbed in to get things going when the SkyHawks went cold. She did just that before picking up an unfortunate three fouls. Belliston had one foul prior to the spree and coach Mike Conner was forced to take her out for the remainder of the third.
Although the SkyHawks were able to chip away at the lead in the fourth, it was too little too late.
Kartchner was "super pumped" about her team's victory and believes her team is ready for the semifinal round. She noted the Mustangs' sluggish start to the season (a 1-5 record), expressing her excitement about how far the team has come. Just like the quarterfinal victory, they were able to work against the odds and achieve something great.
The forward was joined in her scoring efforts by teammate Emily Moore. Moore earned a double-double as well, dishing out 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Salem Hill's Hailey Ingram led the SkyHawks with an impressive 17 points in the loss. Several of those points came in the second half as she fought valiantly to regain the lead. Belliston finished with 12 and Lyssa Hanks earned eight to complement her 12 rebounds.
The Mustangs advance to the semifinals where they'll take on Springville.
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