Hamilton girls basketball coach Jeff Kain could have done without the heartburn, but a win is the most important thing in the end, especially this time of year

The Huskies saw an 18-point second-half lead drop to four, but they played smart enough down the stretch to hang on for a 56-47 win over Desert Vista in the opening round of the 5A-I state tournament Thursday night at Hamilton.

"Desert Vista really battled," Kain said. "I don't want to do that again."

The sixth-seeded Huskies went ahead 40-22 on a free throw by Kyndall Adams with 1:48 in the third quarter. From there the Thunder stormed back, finishing the quarter on an 8-0 run and then cutting the deficit to 47-43 on a pair of free throws by Simone Westbrook with 3:32 left in the game. Westbrook had a chance to cut into the lead more on Desert Vista's next possession, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, and Desert Vista got no closer.

With two minutes to go, Hamilton smartly passed the ball around the perimeter and forced Desert Vista to foul. The Huskies made 7 of 12 free throws down the stretch, which was enough.

"We called the one timeout and told them to really be patient," Kain said. "There was a stretch where they were really jacking up a lot of 3's and too many jumpers."

Hamilton's defense helped it to the big lead early, holding Desert Vista to 18 points in the first half.

The Huskies played a zone that seemed to disrupt Desert Vista and went to double-teams and a box-and-one on Westbrook at times. She averages 17 points per game but had only four until late in the third quarter. Westbrook helped key the comeback and finished with 13.

Hamilton was led by Katrina Ottesen, who finished with 17 points. Adams added 12.

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