Corner Canyon head coach Craig Morris thought it was going to be a good night when he saw his team’s energy as they took the floor Tuesday. He was right, as No. 15 Corner Canyon decisively defeated No. 18 Hunter in the first round of the 6A girls basketball state tournament, picking up a 67-33 victory and extending its season to at least Thursday.
The key to the Charger’s high energy: junior Clara Hazar’s pregame speech. Before the contest began, Morris decided he’d leave the pregame speech to Hazer; it worked like a charm.
“I said, ‘Clara, tonight the pregame speech is on you,’” Morris said. “And then they came out sprinting, high energy. … I’ll let Clara do the pregame speeches from here on out.”
Morris’ squad used the momentum from Hazer, jumping out to a 14 point lead after one quarter of play. Corner Canyon only trailed once all game long — a 2-3 deficit that was quickly overcome as the Chargers took control of the game early and coasted to victory.
“That was so fun,” Morris said of his team’s postseason win. “The girls played really hard. That’s a great last home game for our seniors.”
The loss was not so fun for a Hunter team whose confidence was running high entering the postseason, having won seven of its last eight regular season games.
Corner Canyon had been much less fortunate, losing eight consecutive contests in Region 4 before it took down Pleasant Grove last Friday. The Chargers learned from their previous struggles, making things look easy Tuesday night.
“We’re battle tested,” Morris said. “We’ve been against some of the best teams in the state. No. 1 seed, No. 3 seed, No. 7 seed, they’re in our region. We played them close a couple times. Obviously, you’d like to win some of those, or all of them. But we battled hard and got better along the way. Going through that region helps you get ready for state.”
Corner Canyon was led by freshman guard Taylor Workman, who ended the night with a game-high 14 points spread across the first three quarters. Charger senior Natalie Newton brought things home in the fourth, scoring all nine of her points in the quarter.
Morris was impressed with Workman’s play all night long. “She gave everything she had,” he said. “She was locked in. She just played so well tonight.”
After losing to Workman and company, Hunter finishes the year with a 10-14 record and for the second straight year exits the state tournament in the first round.
For its reward, Corner Canyon advances to the second round of the tournament and will travel north to face No. 2 Fremont Thursday at 7 p.m. The Silverwolves, winners of the 6A state title a season ago, have not lost since December.
Morris is confident his team can compete with the defending champs. “We’ve played against big, tall, fast, talented teams. That’s what Fremont is,” he said. “We know all about them. The coach is great. That program is big time.”
The Chargers just might need one of Hazer’s big pregame speeches Thursday.