Basketball

High School Girls Basketball: Makeili Ika’s last-second layup propels Lone Peak past Herriman in Championship Game 6A

High School Girls Basketball: Makeili Ika's last-second layup propels Lone Peak past Herriman in Championship Game 6A

Thursday’s 6A semi-final between Lone Peak and Herriman was tied at 49 with 1:48 left after an equalizing free throw from Herriman’s Halli Burbidge.

In a playoff game, 1:48 might be a long time, but it seemed like an eternity to Lone Peak head coach Nancy Warner, who knew she wanted her team to be the one to shoot the last shot of the game.

In a brilliant display of execution – which won’t be possible next season when the shot clock is introduced – the Knights possessed the ball for all 108 seconds of play.

With only 2.8 seconds left on the clock, Lone Peak’s Makeili Ika saw an open lane and attacked it. The junior point guard drove right and dropped the game-winning shot to crack the team’s ticket to the 6A championship game.

Naia Tanuvasa caught Herriman’s inbound pass on the next play, sealing a 51-49 victory for the Knights.

“We were supposed to look for a back door (cut) in Kailey Woolston, but I just saw an open path and thought I’d take it all the way,” Ika said of his winning play.

Ika, who was 2 of 9 from the field before the game-winning shot, said she just needed to activate her aggressive mentality on the play.

“I knew we were a very young team and hadn’t seen a league game in a while, but I knew we could do anything together. I did it for my teammates and for my family,” Ika said.

It was not a typical game for the top-seeded Knights, who lost at halftime for the first time this season.

Trailing by 10 points in the first quarters of an hour, Lone Peak players and coaches went to their locker room knowing something had to change.

The Mustangs shot 43% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line in the first half of the game.

“I’m telling you, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an opponent shoot this well,” Warner said of the Mustangs. “Credit to them, they played hard and the way they shot the ball was amazing. We knew we had to make defensive saves, one at a time, and the players took that to heart coming out of mid- time.

The Knights finally managed to string together a few saves to start the third period and went on a 10-0 run to set the tone.

But Herriman’s offense, which finished with 14 assists on 17 field goals, continued to hum at times and kept the game close until the end despite Lone Peak’s resurgence after halftime.

Mustang senior Lexi Jensen was a handful for Lone Peak all afternoon. Jensen finished with a game-high 20 points, five assists and four rebounds, on 50% shooting from the field.

“Lexi is such a good player and she has the best attitude,” Ika said of Jensen. “I’ve played with her and against her, but every time I play against her, I’m always like, ‘Wow, I have to remember to keep moving my feet.’ She’s a good sportswoman and an even better player.

The Knights were again led by junior Woolston, who finished with 17 points. Tanuvasa, who scored all of his 11 points in the first half, was instrumental in keeping Lone Peak in the game after the Mustangs were mostly in control for the first 16 minutes.

Lone Peak also received strong contributions from 5-foot-6 sophomore Shawnee Nordstrom, who scored 13 points and caught a team-high eight boards.

When the Knights trailed 48-47 with three minutes remaining in the game, it was Nordstrom who stole the ball and converted a quick layup to give his team a late lead.

“Shawnee is a real competitor and I see that fire in her eyes all the time,” Warner said of the unfazed second-year guard. “Coming here, the lights aren’t too bright for her. She rose to the occasion and I think she did and showed it today.

After the final buzzer, the Knights ran to celebrate their place in the title game with their comrades, a moment that Ika said was special for her and her teammates, who will now be playing for a championship at a location closer to home. at their home Saturday at BYU. Marriott Center – the same place where Warner played his college ball.

Getting the win against the Mustangs, who bounced the Knights back in last season’s semifinals, made it even more enjoyable for Ika and her teammates, many of whom played in last year’s game.

“I was like, ‘This is a revenge tour for us,'” Ika said with a smile. “We had to get it this time so we knew we couldn’t back down, we had to keep going.”