ST. GEORGE – The traditional Region 9 power will take on the newly anointed Region champions tonight, Friday, February 11, in a battle of No. 1 seeds, as Snow Canyon High School boys’ basketball takes on Desert Hills High School.
The Thunder defeated the Warriors on Jan. 19, 65-60. This game will have extra meaning as Snow Canyon is still fighting for the No. 1 seed out of the 4A teams in the Region.
Desert Hills is coming off its championship-clinching win against Pine View High School. The Thunder has dominated the Region this season with a 10-1 Region record. The Warriors have struggled as of late, losing four of their last six games.
Desert Hills coach Steve Melessa said he attributed the successful season to the depth the Thunder have. He said he feels the depth will be extra important at the Thunder Dome tonight.
“It’s traditionally been hard to go on the road in this region and win,” Melessa said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to win, and that was the case at Snow Canyon. It was quite a battle both ways. They have a very good team. They’ve lost some close games.”
Melessa said he knows Snow Canyon will go into the Thunder Dome ready to play, mainly because the Warriors have not yet clinched a playoff spot.
He also said he wants to key in on Snow Canyon’s senior forward Xavier Fely because of Fely’s combination of size and speed.
Snow Canyon coach James Brown also said he needs Fely to have a big day, but he also said ball control will be a key factor.
“Our guards have got to do a good job of taking care of the basketball,” Brown said. “But our offense certainly goes through [Fely and senior forward Preston Root].”
Tonight is also Senior Night for Desert Hills. The Thunder has seven seniors on the team.
Melessa said he’s been trying to pound it into his seniors’ minds that this is their final Region home game.
“We don’t want to take a step back,” he said. “You’re getting ready to go into the playoffs, so you want to be playing some of your best basketball, but they’re teenagers, so you don’t know what goes on in their heads sometimes.”
Brown said he didn’t think Desert Hills will have any kind of let down because they’re a mentally tough team.
“I don’t think too many things rattle them,” he said. “They’re going to have Senior Night. There’s going to be a lot of things going on over [at the Thunder Dome]. I just talk to our kids, and our mission or our goal going over there is for us to fix our mistakes and get better as a team.”
Brown said he’s been concerned with the recent let downs his team has had. Just like with Desert Hills, the Warriors are playing with the idea that they need to get better for their own tournament coming up.
The game starts at 7 p.m. tonight on the campus of Desert Hills High School.