OGDEN — The Hurricane Tigers can chalk up Thursday's 50-42 victory over Judge Memorial in the quarterfinals of the 3A Girls State Championships to experience.

Three years ago the Tigers lost in the finals to Union and the following year they responded by beating Judge, 42-19. While earlier this year they suffered through a four-game Region 9 slide and bounced back with four straight wins.

Now the Tigers are just one game away from making it to their third straight title game and two wins away from their second straight championship.

"We had our slump through four games, but never did we think we wouldn't be in the position to be competing for a title," Hurricane coach Randy Wyatt said

The first game of the three-game title defense came with a little worry.

After enjoying a lead of 16 points midway through the third quarter, the Tigers, the No. 4 seed from Region 9, watched the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs trim it to four with less than two minutes left, and that's where their experience stepped in.

"I told them (his Tigers) we've won many a state-tournament game and it's our job to go in and if you really believe you'll need to refocus and go out and make that happen."

Senior center Miranda Force took that challenge and scored on a driving lay up with 1:17 left to give the Tigers the cushion they needed to hang on.

"She has all kind of skills and tonight she played very well," Wyatt said. "She got a huge basket when we really needed a big one."

With the win the Tigers (18-6) take on region rival Snow Canyon, the winner of the 1998 title on the Dee Events Center floor, today at 1 p.m. for the right to go to the finals. Dixie and Pine View were also winners Thursday setting up an all Region 9 semifinals.

With the loss the Bulldogs fall to 20-3.

Hurricane, behind Force's eight second-quarter points led by as many as 14 with less than a minute to go in the half before Terilyn Peterson Peterson converted a three-point play just before the half to cut the lead to 11.

Hurricane ballooned its lead to 16 on a bucket by Force with 5:19 left in the third quarter. Judge's Rose Hamilton scored six of her 18 points in the last four and a half minutes of the third quarter and Sarah Hawkins his a pair of fouls shots and the lead was seven heading into the final quarter.

Trailing by 11 with four minutes left, Hamilton hit a pair of fouls shots, Kim Constantinesco had a hoop and Hamilton buried a three-pointer to cut the lead to four, but Force's hoop stopped the run.

Hurricane's Sheila Robertson, who signed to play at Weber State, has 12 points for the Tigers, but turned the ball over 16 times on her future home court, Tamie Hepworth added 10. Hawkins and Constantinesco had nine each for the Bulldogs.

In other action:

SNOW CANYON 50, EMERY 39: Lisa Mangum scored 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds and Ava Crump added 10 points in the win over Emery.

Shannah Oviatt led the Spartans with 17 points and teammate Tara Powell added 11.

PINE VIEW 61, WASATCH 53: Shauntel Garrett and Tara Esplin scored 20 points each and Jessica Freeman added 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Panthers advanced to the semifinals.

Liz Turner led the Wasps with 18 points and Shalee Fackrell added 16 in a losing effort.

DIXIE 64, MORGAN 41: Liz Brady, Camille Gardner, and Chasi Winningham all scored 19 points each as the Flyers cruised to the 23-point victory.


E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com