High school girls basketball: Makeili Ika hits yet another game-winning shot to give Lone Peak its first state title in 23 years
When the Lone Peak girls basketball program last won a state championship, Makeili Ika hadn’t even been born yet.
After sinking a game-winning layup in the Knights’ semifinal game against Herriman on Thursday, the junior point guard had ice running through her veins once again Saturday at the Marriott Center.
Gaining possession with 2:08 to play in the second overtime of the 6A championship game following Fremont’s Timea Gardiner’s two free throws that tied the game at 65, the Knights sat on the ball — just like they did in the semifinal — in order to take what they hoped would be the game’s final shot.
With seconds to play, Ika drove, pulled up from the right side of the floor and banked in a shot that will go down in Lone Peak history.
“When you watch her play, no moment is too big for her,” Lone Peak head coach Nancy Warner said of Ika. “She’s a competitor. She stepped up and did what she needed to do.”
The made shot with 0.5 seconds to play gave Lone Peak a 67-65 victory over the defending 6A champions and its first state championship in 23 years.
“I did it for my family,” Ika said through tears. “This is my hometown. I’m from Provo, and I got to take a state championship (here), so it means a lot. I love this team. Undefeated.”
Not only did the win clinch an undefeated season for the Knights, but it also ended Fremont’s 48-game in-state winning streak.
The shot was a second chance for Ika, who missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
At the end of the first overtime, it was Fremont who sat on the ball for a chance at the game-winning shot.
Gardiner’s attempt glanced off the rim and was rebounded by Fremont, but neither of the ensuing two putback attempts fell.
In both potential game-winning situations, both coaches called a timeout at some point to draw up a play, but on Ika’s game-winning play in overtime, Warner elected not to call a timeout in order to keep Fremont’s Maggie Mendelson — who was on the bench to avoid getting a fifth foul — off the floor.
The talking point coming into the game was whether or not the Knights could overcome Fremont’s significant size advantage, but it turns out that Lone Peak had an equally important advantage in its ability to shoot from long range.
After hitting its first two 3-point attempts early in the game, Lone Peak went 0 for 7 the remainder of the first half and found itself trailing the Silverwolves by nine points at the break.
The second half was a much different story.
Over the course of the second half and the two overtime periods, the Knights shot a blistering 9 for 14 from the 3-point line (64%).
Nearly half of Lone Peak’s total points came from beyond the arc (33 of 67 points).
In order for the shooting to matter, Lone Peak still needed to pick up stops, and they ultimately did when they needed them most.
“We went into halftime knowing we needed to focus in on the defensive end and make at least one stop, and we did,” Warner said.
“They made the huge shots and that’s characteristic of our team. Credit to them for knocking them down on the big stage.”
Fremont’s lengthy duo of Mendelson and Gardiner still presented problems for the Knights, especially inside the paint. Mendelson finished with a team-high 24 points, while Gardiner finished with 23.
Fremont outscored Lone Peak in the paint 34-14, but despite their size advantage, the Silverwolves couldn’t contain 6A’s leading scorer, Kailey Woolston, who finished with a game-high 26 points while also grabbing a game-high six boards.
“It’s crazy, it’s a dream come true,” Woolston said. “We knew what we could do and we trusted each other so much, and that’s all that mattered.”
Trailing Woolston were Ika and sophomore Shawnee Nordstrom, who finished with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Despite being undersized in comparison, the Knights were only outrebounded by two in an impressive display of effort.
“We knew they were taller than us, so we knew we had to box out and work hard,” Ika said. “We could play fast and beat them down the court, so we played as fast as we could.”
Ika said that she and her teammates had more than enough energy to continue if a third overtime was required.
For Warner, it was her fourth title win as a coach, with the other three coming during her tenure at Springville.
“This means everything,” Warner said. “I’m so happy for the girls. They worked so hard. It’s been a process to get here, and I just feel so proud of them.”
With only one senior on the roster, Teuila Nawahine — who finished her final game with nine points on three made 3-pointers — the Knights will bring back the bulk of their rotation and will undoubtedly be the favorites to repeat next year.
But Warner, who coached Nawahine’s sister at Springville, said the senior guard will be missed.
“She’s like a daughter to me. I feel like all of them are my daughters,” Warner said. “We’re going to miss her and I’m so proud of her.”
Deseret News 6A girls all-tournament team
MVP– Kailey Woolston, Lone Peak
Makeili Ika, Lone Peak
Timea Gardiner, Fremont
Maggie Mendelson, Fremont
Lexi Jensen, Herriman
Shawnee Nordstrom, Lone Peak