2021 Girls 4A Recap: Late run lifts Canyon past Hardin-Jefferson

If you blinked during Thursday’s 4A state title, you might’ve missed the game-changing sequence.

But it’s not like there was any room to look away at any point during the fast-paced affair inside the Alamodome between Canyon (31-1) and Hardin-Jefferson (29-1) that saw 11 lead changes. Neither team reached a double-digit lead and both teams shot over 40 percent from the floor and 3-point range.

And in the midst of the chaos, it was a quick 6-0 run late from the Lady Eagles that finished off Hardin-Jefferson’s unbeaten season and gave Canyon its 20th state championship.

Trailing by four with under two minutes left. Canyon’s Chloe Callahan, a North Texas signee, stole the ball and got it to Kenadee Winfrey who sank a corner 3-pointer. Seconds later, thanks to an opportunistic full-court press, Callahan stole it again, this time from H-J star Ashlon Jackson.

The senior found Zoey Mcbroom in the corner, who nailed another three from the wing and gave Canyon a two-point lead with just over a minute left. Canyon went from down four to up two in just 12 seconds.

“It was amazing how quickly it turned but it felt like we were never out of it,” Canyon head coach Tate Lombard said. “We just had to make a couple of plays.”

The run countered Hardin-Jefferson’s own 5-0 run just two minutes prior that gave the Lady Hawks the lead. Scoring runs were hard to come by. Both teams’ stars, Callahan for Canyon and Jackson for Hardin-Jefferson, a Duke commit, traded buckets seemingly at every turn.

“I knew that (Jackson) was going to score when she came down the court,” Callahan said. “She’s an amazing player really. She’d make awesome moves, right and left hand and score. I just knew that we had to stay in the game and therefore we had to make big plays and finish through.”

Jackson finished with a game-high 27 points while Callahan added 17 with three steals, earning the game’s MVP. Taylor Thomas was the next-highest leading scorer in the game with 12. Some of Callahan’s key buckets came off-balance and heavily guarded by Jackson.

“Sometimes you tip your hat, H-J head coach Mike Fogo said. “Some of those, I thought it was great defense and you couldn’t ask for a whole lot more. (Callahan) stepped up and made a play and they were big moments.”

The game was also a veteran Canyon team made up of nine seniors against a young Lady Hawks team with just three seniors and a freshman in Kendall Sneed in the starting five.

“It was just a mental battle,” Jackson said. “We had to ignore the hype because this team is very special. We’re all young, but I feel like this is a learning experience because going in you have to go in with a winning attitude. But (Canyon) executed and we didn’t I would say.”

Jackson, now a two-time runner-up in her high school career promised the Lady Hawks would be back next season. But Thursday afternoon, belonged to West Texas and Canyon.

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