SALT LAKE CITY — Since Salem Hills High School opened up 10 years ago they have won a variety of state championships, but none of those has been for their girls basketball team.
Salem Hills will be adding a new state title banner to their raftors after defeating Hurricane 57-35 Saturday.
“Its legendary, this team is so awesome I love them all so much and it was well deserved,” said Lauren Gustin. “It’s so great especially senior year finishing off like this I couldn’t of asked for a better finish.”
Gustin led the Skyhawks with 32 points, six steals, and 13 rebounds in the 22-point victory. Hurricane had no answer for Gustin, as she was the Skyhawks' offensive force wherever she was on the court.
“She’s the best I’ve ever seen; I can’t say any more than that," Skyhawk head coach Kyle Francom. said. "She’s the best there is. On the floor and off the floor, she's a great leader a great kid.”
Hailey Johnson also came up big for the Skyhawks offensively as she contributed 10 points in her team's victory. While the game was close in the first quarter with a 9-8 score, the Skyhawks made some adjustments and slowly pulled away with a 10-point lead at half. After that the rest of the game was controlled by Salem Hills.
“We always talk about staying together all year we didn’t panic, we tried to approach it like any other game. We made adjustments defensively made a few tweaks on how we were guarding on ball screens, that made a big difference for us in the second half but we kept everyone together. We’ve played in a lot of close games all year so we knew how to make adjustments and our kids responded really well.”
The Skyhawks defense completely dominated the game and is what made them so powerful, holding Hurricane to 25 percent shooting. In the third quarter, Salem Hills only allowed two points from the Tigers.
“Our goal is to hold every team to under 40 percent shooting. I think most games we've been in the low 30s. Defensively, they were just dominant, that was the biggest thing,” Francom said. “I’m so proud of them all they all played their responsibility defensively as well as you could ever ask.”
Salem Hills’ practice were focused on defense, Gustin said, and their work paid off in this game and throughout the whole state tournament.
As for the Tigers, Jayden Langford led with 17 points. She was the only member of her team to score with double digits.
For a school with no history of state titles this is a huge accomplishment. Francom credited his girls offseason efforts for this championship.
“We had seven girls on the team who made over 10,000 shots in the offseason, not shot but made. This championship was won months ago, they were so committed and dedicated and did more than what was expected of them.”
Lexi Lewis is studying public relations at Utah Valley University. You can follow her on twitter @lex_lew1018.