In the huddle, when we were down seven points, our coach told us we could come back. She told us it was going to be our defense, we were going to get some steals. —Hurricane's Madi Hirschi
OREM — With just under six minutes remaining in their 4A semifinal contest against the Lehi Pioneers, Hurricane head coach Franci Homer called timeout.
Her Tigers had struggled offensively for much of the afternoon, scoring just 14 first-half points and eight more in the third quarter.
More importantly, and with only five minutes and fifty seconds on the clock at UVU’s UCCU Center, her team trailed the Pioneers by seven points.
In the huddle, Homer made one thing perfectly clear to her team, she believed they could rally and win the game.
“I told them, ‘Guys, we are only down seven points. Seven is nothing. You can do this. You just have to believe. We have to go get a score and get a stop. That is all it takes and we are in this (game).’”
Her Tigers heard her loud and clear.
Madi Hirschi scored seven consecutive points, Kylee Stevens and Hailey Homer each chipped in free throws, Homers was a last-second and game-deciding free throw, and Hurricane defeated Lehi 43-42.
“In the huddle, when we were down seven points, our coach told us we could come back,” said Hirschi, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “She told us it was going to be our defense, we were going to get some steals. Then Jaden Langford told us we were going to do it bit by bit. That really lined it up for me. I knew it was going to be one stop, one basket. We were going to stop them and we were going to score.”
The stopping part hadn’t been too difficult for the Tigers. They had proven they could stop Lehi. After all, the Pioneers shot a less than stellar 38 percent from the field in the game, making just 17-of-44 shots attempts.
Their 3-point percentage was even worse, as they finished the game 2 of 9.
The scoring part was where the Tigers had struggled. Langford, the team’s leading scorer this season, was 2-for-13 from the field for six points, half of her season average. Hirschi, the team’s second-leading scorer, hadn’t been great herself, connecting on just two shots, both three-pointers.
As a team Hurricane shot a brutal 28 percent from the field when it was all said and done, making just 13-of-46 shot attempts.
They made them when they counted, however, led by Hirschi.
Following the timeout, she drilled a corner three, cutting the Pioneers lead to four. She then proceeded to steal the ball multiple times, netting herself a pair of layups, the last of which, with 36 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Tigers a 40-39 lead.
“(Madi) was outstanding,” said Homer. “What did she come up with, two or three steals, and she scored right off them!? She totally picked us up and got us back in that game. She was awesome.”
Despite leading the game for the first time since the first quarter, the Tigers weren’t free and clear. On the ensuing possession, Lehi freshman Apelila Galeai drove right down the middle of the lane and had what looked to be a certain layup.
The ball dribbled harmlessly off the rim, however, and a Pioneer foul subsequently sent Stevens to the line.
The senior proceeded to make a pair of freebies, giving Hurricane a 42-39 lead with 25 seconds left.
Galeai redeemed herself, however, casually dribbling the ball up the court before draining a Steph Curry-range three-pointer to tie the game.
“That was a beautiful shot,” said Homer. “That shot was amazing.”
Fortunately for the Tigers, Homer's daughter Hailey was fouled on the very next offensive possession.
With the game on the line, and mere seconds remaining, Homer missed her first free throw. She got nothing but net on the second, however, and with that, the Tigers were headed to the state title game.
“I would put Hailey on the line any day,” said Homer. “These girls did everything I asked them to do. I am so excited. They did it!”
With the win, Hurricane will face Salem Hills, Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
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