Cottonwood Heights • Brighton High girls' basketball coach Jim Gresh had seen enough. He wasn't about to watch another 3-pointer sink his team's hopes in Friday's preseason finale against visiting Hillcrest.
Lindsey Johnson made sure the Huskies would be denied.
Johnson stole the ball in the final seconds to preserve the Bengals' 53-51 victory over Hillcrest. Brighton had led by 10 points early in the third quarter before the remainder of the game became a seesaw battle of momentum.
"I got a good reaction on the ball," Johnson said about her key steal. "We just needed to bring our intensity up and not allow any 3s."
Karyana Fue got the Huskies back in the game with three 3-pointers in the second half. Hillcrest, which trailed 29-19 at one point, roared back with a 24-9 run to open a five-point lead seconds into the fourth quarter. Fue's 3-pointer gave the Huskies a 50-45 lead with three minutes remaining in the game.
However, the Bengals (7-3) pulled ahead on Maddy Chin's basket with 30 seconds left and held on thanks to Johnson's timely defense.
"I scouted them and I didn't know who [Fue] was," Gresh said. "She made those 3s and they got going and tied it up. But we stayed in the game and fought hard to the end. We always do that. I thought they were going to shoot a 3 and win the game. We played as tight as we could on the 3."
Fue had scored only 13 points through Hillcrest's first nine games. She finished with 11 points Friday.
Johnson (17 points) and Chin (16) combined for 33 points, but it almost wasn't enough. Hillcrest countered with Myrsa McVey, who positioned herself well inside and scored a game-high 21 points, including 15 in the first half.
Despite McVey's dominant first half, the rest of the Husky offense seemed lethargic and hesitant with the basketball. Hillcrest (7-3) was content to lob the ball inside to McVey rather than attack the basket. That strategy changed in the second half, as the Huskies became more aggressive.
"They have great intensity, so we tried to work as a team and keep that up," Johnson said. "[The win] definitely makes us more confident and happy."
Brighton led by as many as nine points (20-11) after Johnson made three consecutive baskets to start the second quarter as part of a 9-0 run.
With the region season starting next week, Gresh said the victory helped the Bengals more than expose any weaknesses.
"It was a real tough game, and we had to come from behind," said Gresh, whose team opens Region 3 action Tuesday at West Jordan. "We'll try harder not to have letdowns next time."
Whitney Nemelka was held to 10 points 10 below her season average for Hillcrest. Robyn Oliphant added six points for the Huskies.