AMERICAN FORK The American Fork girls basketball team clinched sole possession of the Region 4 title with its come-from-behind 50-42 victory over Pleasant Grove Tuesday night.
"I don't know the last time American Fork won a title, but it's been a while, so yeah it feels good," said American Fork coach Corey Clayton.
With the win, the Cavemen head into the state tournament with the No. 1 seed and will take on Layton in the first round. Timpanogos settled into the No. 2 seed with a first-round game against Weber. Lone Peak wound up with the No. 3 seed and a first round matchup against a tough Davis squad. And Pleasant Grove fell to No. 4 with a tough fight against Fremont in the first round.
But none of this was settled very late Tuesday as Haley Holmstead finally took things over in the fourth stanza with 10 of her 16 total points.
It was senior night for the Cavemen, and Clayton started his three seniors, playing them through most of the first quarter. Senior Lindie Spencer got things going with a trey right off the top for American Fork, but that lead didn't last as Pleasant Grove went ahead on the jumper by Krystal Carter and didn't look back until the final seconds of the third period.
Whitney Giles scored the only trey for the Vikings and finished with six points, but it was Pleasant Grove's inside attack that kept them ahead of the tough Cavemen through most of the first three quarters.
Jennifer Hamson pulled down 16 rebounds in addition to her 12 points and showed plenty of aggressiveness with her turnaround jump shot and rebound putbacks. Sarah Clement added 14 points with her own aggressive game and showed she's one of the top free throw shooters in the league with 6-6 from the line.
But it was the Vikings' inability to score from outside the paint that gave American Fork the opening it needed.
"They did a good job on our perimeter shooting, but we got the ball inside, which kept us in the game," said Pleasant Grove coach Glenn Larsen, who was happy with the effort against American Fork and hopes his team is peaking at the right time.
"In the first half we played a little bit panicked on both ends, but in the second half we were more patient and hit a couple of shots," said Clayton, who added that his guards had done a good job putting pressure on the Viking guards.
"I thought at the end that they really stuck together and executed when they had to," added Clayton about his team that's gone through a couple of losses in the past two weeks after making it through the season prior to that undefeated.
He was also happy with the play of Cydne Mason (three 3-pointers and 13 points). Amy Krommenhoek added two 3-pointers of her own and eight points.
Pleasant Grove was up 32-31 with 15 seconds remaining in the third when Makenzie Moea'i laid it in for the one-point lead. The Cavemen led the rest of the way, figuring out how to stop the Pleasant Grove inside threats and getting the ball to Holmstead."We usually do a pretty good job on kids that are bigger than us because that happens every game," said Clayton, looking forward to trying to stop Sheila Adams and Layton in the first round of the 5A tournament at SLCC on February 19.