TAYLORSVILLE — Midway through the second quarter of Tuesday’s 6A first-round game, Hillcrest found itself in an obvious offensive rut and trailing by three to a Clearfield team it beat by 13 back in the preseason.
It would’ve been easy for doubt to start creeping in that maybe the soft Region 2 schedule that Hillcrest marched through with ease was actually having a negative impact. Coach Devin Olenick even admitted it was concern heading into the game.
Despite the slow start, the Huskies eventually settled in like Olenick hoped as they pulled away for a 62-47 win over Clearfield to advance to Thursday’s 6A quarterfinals.
“I’m proud of how they settled in, were able to go on a run, take their best shot and just come out on top. It was exhausting,” said Olenick.
Hillcrest led by five at the half, and then with Snowder scoring nine of her 25 points in the third quarter, it pushed its lead to 45-29 after the third. After scoring on its opening possession of the fourth, Hillcrest led by 18 and was in position to put things into cruise control.
Clearfield had other ideas. Led by Haylie Anderson — who finished with 24 points — the Falcons chipped away at the deficit with an 18-5 run to cut the lead to 52-47 with 2:35 remaining.
It had a chance to whittle away at the deficit even more after Anderson recorded one of her six steals, but that Clearfield possession ended in a turnover. A minute later Anderson fouled out, and Clearfield didn’t score again as Hillcrest finished on a 10-0 run.
“Clearfield did a tremendous job of applying the pressure in the second half and taking us out of what we wanted to do. Proud of our girls for sticking it out and handling the ball there in the last few minutes,” said Olenick.
Nerves played a role in Hillcrest’s slow start, and all the missed shots prevented it from pushing the pace like it wanted. Eventually the Huskies got Clearfield into an up-tempo game and the lead ballooned quickly.
“We got out of some of the key elements of our offense, our spacing. They were out pressuring passing lanes and we were having trouble with some of that. Knocking down shots certainly helped,” said Olenick.
Snowder in particular helped get the offense rolling as she attacked the paint regularly in the second half. She finished the game shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 13 of 18 from the foul line. Eight of her 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass, which helped Hillcrest enjoy a 16-4 edge in second-chance points.
“She is a battler down low, and in tremendous shape, she’s going to outwork anybody on the floor even though she might be outsized, that’s what she did tonight. Got some key putbacks for us,” said Olenick.
With the win, Hillcrest advances to Thursday’s 6A quarterfinals at 5:50 p.m.