When we lost to them a couple weeks ago, from that point on we were set and ready for this game. We’ve been preparing all season for this game, it’s a super big win for us and super happy about it. —Salem Hills’ Lauren Gustin
SALEM — Salem Hills’ Lauren Gustin and Hailey Johnson combined for 29 points on Friday night, but it was their scrappiness in the final seconds that ultimately preserved the win over Mountain View in the Region 10 showdown between two of the best teams in the state.
As Mountain View frantically tried to get off a game-tying shot in the final seconds after its initial shot missed, Gustin and Johnson both dove to the floor in succession to steal the ball away as the final horn sounded for the 49-47 win.
Gustin, who led Salem Hills with 22 points, said she hurt her wrist diving to the floor to tip the ball away, but that lunge denied an entry pass that could’ve given Mountain View a tying layup at the buzzer. Johnson then dove to secure possession as time expired.
In the chaos, Gustin said, “I didn’t even know the clock was at zero.”
For Salem Hills, the win avenged a 50-40 loss to Mountain View in the first region matchup, and both teams are now in position to earn a share of the Region 10 title if they win out.
“When we lost to them a couple weeks ago, from that point on we were set and ready for this game. We’ve been preparing all season for this game, it’s a super big win for us and super happy about it,” said Gustin.
While Gustin’s play at the rim was key all game for Salem Hills, Kaylee Brimhall’s sharp shooting in the fourth quarter was perhaps the difference. The senior hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the last giving her team a seemingly comfortable 48-39 lead with 1:54 remaining.
“When we have a nine-point lead with under two minutes, I would’ve expected us to maybe finish them off, but we went ahead and made it interesting for everyone watching,” said Salem Hills coach Kyle Francom.
Over Salem Hills' next four possessions, it turned it over three times and then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on the other. That opened the door for Mountain View, which cut the deficit to 48-47 with 1:02 remaining following back-to-back threes from Tahlia White — who led all scorers with 23 points.
Thanks to a pair of Salem Hills turnovers, Mountain View had two possessions to potentially take the lead in the final minute, but those also ended in turnovers.
Dixie Lainhart gave the Skyhawks a 49-47 lead with 25.6 seconds left as she knocked down 1-of-2 free throws, and after that it was all about defense and grit to secure the win.
“I thought the effort was high from start to finish, great effort. It’s kind of the game I think everyone expected,” Francom said.
Salem Hills’ coach said he didn’t tweak the game plan much for the rematch, he just said his players were sharper in the fourth quarter and made some big baskets. Of Salem Hills’ seven 3-pointers, four came in the fourth quarter.