The No. 1-ranked Lehi Pioneers rallied to defeat the Jordan Beetdiggers in a tightly contested 5A quarterfinals on Monday.
The Pioneers let a nine-point lead slip away in a tough third quarter before finding the path to a 60-46 victory.
Both teams struggled in the first quarter as Lehi battled to an 8-7 lead. With under a minute to go, the ball rotated through four Pioneers until eventually finding its way to Jamisyn Heaton in the left corner, where she knocked down a 3-pointer.
On the ensuing possession, Heaton picked off a cross-court pass, resulting in an easy layup to extend the lead to six points.
“We have really emphasized ending quarter really well, and we felt that gave us a boost heading into the second quarter. That is what Jamisyn does, she makes plays,” Lehi coach Sean Seastrand said.
The run continued to start the second quarter, and the lead eventually grew to nine points.
“It was a really big key for us. We have had some struggles going into the second half, so we made it a key to get going in the first half so if we did struggle like we did that we could have a chance to keep it close,” Heaton said in discussing the importance of the first half.
Coming out of halftime down eight points, Jordan’s offense exploded. The Beetdiggers made a 3-pointer on their opening possession before finishing the quarter on a 13-2 run to gain a six-point lead.
Fui Niumeitolu and Lea Afu made play after play to give the Beetdiggers a lead.
The Pioneers were only able to muster five points in the period, all off the hands of Maci Wall. Her energy and leadership allowed Lehi to stay in the game despite the rough stretch.
“Our third quarter has been rough the last few games,” Wall said. “One of my roles is to keep the energy high. We have been taught to stay connected and stay positive. If we get down on ourselves, we can let go and that fourth quarter is not as good.”
Now trailing 37-33 heading into the final period, the Pioneers had to find the best quarter of their season. Sammie Bassett and the Pioneer bench helped to set the tone at the start of the fourth quarter.
“They came out fighting for their lives, and we got put back on our heels, but we were down six and talked about how we had one quarter for our season, we don’t have any other choice,” Seastrand said.
On the opening possession of the final period, Heaton cut to the basket, resulting in an easy layup.
After another Jordan basket, Lehi crossed half court trailing by four points. Heaton knocked down a 3-pointer and then was able to steal the inbounds pass and draw a foul.
On the ensuing play, Samantha Love drilled a catch-and-shoot 3 from the top of the key. A 6-0 trip down the court gave the Pioneers the lead for good.
“At the end of the third quarter we made it a goal to not rush anything. We are a really smart team, so we wanted to play our game while picking it up on offense and defense. We decided to start on defense and knew the offensive buckets would come,” Heaton said.
Jordan kept fighting, keeping it close through the middle of the fourth quarter, but two free throws from Tera Smith after an offensive rebound put the game out of reach.
By game’s end, Lehi had totaled 27 of its points on just nine shots and 10 free throw attempts.
Heaton finished the game with 22 points on 9-for-16 from the field, including 4-for-7 from behind the arc to go along with her six steals.
Lehi moves on to Wednesday’s semifinal game, where it will take on Highland.