ST. GEORGE – The Cedar Redmen are making a habit of falling behind early. Unfortunately for their opponents, they’re really good at digging themselves out of a hole.
The Redmen rallied from from a 15-point deficit on the road against Snow Canyon for their third come-from-behind victory of the region season, defeating the Warriors 51-49 in what turned out to be arguably the most exciting Region 9 game of the season.
“Good things happen when you keep playing,” Cedar guard Mike Hourigan said. “We just kept playing and good things happened.”
Snow Canyon dominated the first half behind nine points from Chandler Gines and eight from Kallan Webster. The Warriors took a 31-20 lead into the locker room and the home fans were rocking. Baskets were coming easily and often as Cedar struggled to find a rhythm. The pattern continued in the second half and the home team pushed the lead to 15 points on multiple occasions.
And then suddenly the teams flip-flopped.
Kordan Nielsen nailed back-to-back triples and sparked a furious Cedar rally capped by a 3-pointer from Hourigan to put the Redmen on top at 43-42. However, Hourigan left the game a few plays later with leg cramps and Snow Canyon quickly regained the lead behind a pair of buckets from Gines. But the momentum had already shifted towards Cedar.
Hourigan checked back into the game and directed another comeback. When the dust settled, the game was tied 49-49 and Cedar held possession with 54 seconds remaining. The Redmen took advantage of the high school no-shot-clock rule and ran the clock down to nine seconds and coach Craig Cardon called for timeout.
The ensuing play was drawn up for Hourigan, but his shot missed and rolled off the rim — right into waiting arms of Dustin Staggs. The Warriors collapsed on Hourigan and left Staggs wide open, who calmly directed the missed shot back into the basket for the game-winning score.
Not lost in the celebration that ensued was Cedar big man Ryan Armstrong, who finished with 10 points and hit 6 of 6 free throws in the game. Armstrong’s perfect night from the line proved to be the difference in such a narrow victory.
“Coach has been telling us all year that in region on the road that free throws is what it’s going to come down to,” Armstrong said. “After practice and in early mornings, I’ve been shooting. We’ve just been spending time at the line.”
Gines led the Warriors with a game-high 15 points and Webster finished with 12 points, but Snow Canyon struggled to get its inside game going as Nate Gottfredson got into foul trouble early and eventually fouled out in the fourth quarter. Gottfredson finished with eight points for the Warriors, who fall to 3-1 in the region and have little time to dwell on the loss as a road game with Desert Hills on Wednesday looms large.
Cedar improves to 4-0 in Region 9 and, as the lone undefeated team, claims sole possession of first place in the region. After opening region play with three consecutive games on the road, the Redmen now play five of the next six at home, beginning with a matchup with Hurricane on Wednesday.
“We get to go to Cedar now,” Cardon said. “Our next six in a row are in Cedar City. We have five in our gym and we go to Canyon View. The three that we’ve won on the road mean nothing if we give them back at home.”
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