Mid-game run propels Hurricane Lady Tigers past Payson, 55-40

Kylee Stevens (5) moves the ball away from a group of players. Stevens scored 10 points as Hurricane defeated Payson 55-40 in high school girls basketball action, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 16, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

HURRICANE — Hurricane High used a mid-game surge to propel the Lady Tigers to a 55-40 win over the Payson Lions in non-region basketball action Saturday afternoon.

Hurricane started off strong, jumping out to an early 8-2 lead, but Payson went on a 10-0 run late in the first period, which ended with the Lady Lions ahead by one point, 14-13.

Hurricane’s Madi Hirschi (far right) knocks the ball away for a steal from Payson guard Addison Taylor (2), Hurricane defeated Payson 55-40 in high school girls basketball action, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 16, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Senior guard Nakell McCloud drilled a 3-pointer for Payson at the start of the second quarter to increase the Lions’ lead to four points, 17-13. Midway through the quarter, Hurricane senior forward Alexa Christensen scored a pair of back-to-back inside baskets to tie the score 18-18.

A couple minutes later, Payson senior Madison Houston tied the game once again on a baseline shot that made it 22-22. The Lady Lions didn’t score again the remainder of the period, however, as the Lady Tigers closed out the first half with a 7-0 run to take a 29-22 halftime lead.

Hurricane’s momentum continued in the early part of the third period, as the Tigers scored nine more unanswered points to start the quarter. Junior guard Madi Hirschi accounted for five of Hurricane’s points during that span.

Hurricane senior guard Jayden Langford (11) shoots inside against Payson. The Lady Tigers defeated Payson 55-40 in high school girls basketball action, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 16, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Payson finally broke the dry spell when Houston drained a pair of free throws to make it 38-24 with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter. Hurricane then scored baskets on three successive inside plays, two by Christensen and one senior guard Jayden Langford, to give the Lady Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 44-24.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Hurricane still led by 15 points, 46-31. Both teams struggled offensively down the stretch, with the Lady Tigers missing their first several field goal attempts of the quarter.

Payson’s Sierah Jensen made a free throw with 3:34 left in the game that cut Hurricane’s lead to nine points, 46-37. After the Lions began to foul intentionally, senior guard Kylee Stevens swished 6 of 6 free throws in the final minutes to keep the Lady Tigers comfortably ahead. When Stevens stole the ball and went in for a layup in the final seconds, that proved to be Hurricane’s only field goal of the fourth quarter.

“We couldn’t score in the fourth quarter, for like forever,” Hurricane head coach Franci Homer said afterward. “They were great shots, they just weren’t falling. I couldn’t fault them for the shots they were taking.”

Hirschi led Hurricane’s balanced scoring attack with 12 points, while Christensen and Stevens each added 10 points and Langford chipped in 9.

Hurricane’s Alexa Christensen (3) looks to pass while being guarded by Payson’s Sydnie Sorensen (23). The Lady Tigers defeated Payson 55-40 in high school girls basketball action, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 16, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George New

Homer said balanced scoring is one of the team’s primary goals.

“That’s kind of how we’ve been all year,” she said. “I’ve never liked a one-person scoring team. I like us to play as a team, to push the ball, find the open (player) and if someone’s hot, let’s get them the points.”

“So far this year, it’s been pretty balanced. We hope to keep it that way,” the coach added.

Payson was led in scoring by McCloud’s 13 points, while Houston added 8.

Hurricane improved to 3-4 overall with the win, while Payson, a 4A team in Region 10, dropped to 4-4 overall with the loss.

The Lady Tigers’ next scheduled game is a region contest against Canyon View at Hurricane on Tuesday, Dec. 19, starting at 7 p.m.

Other action Saturday

In other action Saturday involving Region 9 teams, Dixie High played two games at the Bulldog Invitational tournament at Mesquite, Nevada, with the Lady Flyers losing to Mojave High of North Las Vegas by a score of 38-33, then bouncing back to beat Panguitch, perennially one of the top teams in Utah’s 1A classification, by a score of 53-22.

Meantime, at the Central Utah Preview at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield, Canyon View High defeated North Sanpete, 40-22.  Also at that tournament, Snow Canyon lost to Richfield, 38-23. “We were down 16-10 at halftime,” said Snow Canyon’s first-year head coach Ryan Rarick. “Richfield opened it up in the third quarter. We cut the lead from 22 points to 11 in the fourth, but ran out of gas to complete the comeback.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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