Salem Hills barrels over Hurricane to capture state championship

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Salem Hills' Lauren Gustin, #12, leads her team in celebrating their 57-35 win over Hurricane for the 4A girl's title, Saturday, March 3, 2018. Gustin finished the game with 32 points and dominated in the win.

Orem • State champion Lauren Gustin found her perfect moment in the final seconds of the third quarter Saturday.

With the clocking ticking down to 8 seconds, the 6-foot senior slashed through the Hurricane Tigers backcourt and intercepted a pass.

Even though Salem Hills had a comfortable lead, Gustin charged down the court like a freight train. She split two defenders and dropped it in at the buzzer for two.

She pumped her fist as her teammates dogpiled onto her. Even though Salem Hills was a quarter away from the 57-35 win over Hurricane for the Class 4A state championship, the senior knew they had it.

“I wanted to hype my team up with that play,” Gustin said. “We’re a family, we play as a unit and I wanted them ready to finish this game.”

Gustin was a force of nature in all stages of the game. She proved to be too much forHurricane, finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds and enough grit to raise the championship trophy. She either would deftly kick out to the wings or cut to the rim when drawing double teams in the paint.

Gustin was at her best in transition. Snatching six steals, Gustin would barrel down the court and finish strong. Salem Hills coach Kyle Francom said she was the lynchpin of this team, with leadership skills matching her play.

“She’s the best I’ve ever seen — I can’t say more than that,” Francom said. “On the floor and off, she carried herself like a champion.”

The Skyhawks’ defense dominated, holding the Tigers to only two points in the third quarter. Salem Hills finished with 36 rebounds and 12 steals. Francom said the aim it to keep opponents’ shooting percentage below 40 percent. Hurricane finished at 28 percent.

“Our practices are straight defense,” Gustin said. “It’s about getting stops and making it pay off on the other end of the court.”

With the game winding down and the Skyhawks victory assured, Gustin retired to the bench to cheers of “MVP” from the student section. Gustin said this was a dream season and couldn’t be prouder of her teammates.

“We deserved this win,” she said.

SALEM HILLS 57, HURRICANE 35 <br>• Senior Lauren Gustin finishes with 32 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and six steals. <br>• Hurricane’s Jayden Langford leads the Tigers with 17 points and eight rebounds. <br>• During the offseason, every Salem Hills starter made more than 10,000 shots in preparation for the season.

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