ST. GEORGE – There are a few games in every season that a team would rather not dwell on once they’re over. The Dixie Flyers had one of those nights Friday as they outlasted Canyon View 50-47 at the Hangar.
The Flyers blew two different 10-point leads in the second half and Canyon View guard Chad Corry had a perfect look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer that rimmed out. The entire gymnasium breathed a sigh of relief as the hometown team eventually escaped with a three-point victory. It was a frustrating outing for Dixie that saw a lopsided team-foul ratio for most of the second half, leading to coach Ryan Cuff picking up a technical foul for removing and throwing his tie.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Cuff said. “They kept their composure and were able to finish. We were able to get the win and that is the most important thing to put us in a position to get to the tournament.”
After a normal first half that saw Dixie go up 32-22, the game quickly turned physical in the second as Canyon View notched up the intensity in hopes of making a comeback. The Falcons cut the lead to 34-33 midway through the third quarter, but Dixie responded with 6-0 run to close out the period. But perhaps more important than maintaining the lead, the Flyers found that extra contributor they’ve been needing.
Senior guard Mitch Wilkinson played the majority of the second half and gave the Flyers the spark they needed to stay in front. Wilkinson finished with six points and wreaked havoc on the Canyon View offense, disrupting its flow and causing turnovers.
“I knew I was going to be coming off the bench,” Wilkinson said. “That’s my role. Come off the bench and give my team a spark on the defensive end. If we’re defensive-minded then the offense will come.”
Kyler Smith paced the Flyers’ offensive effort and finished with 11 points, none more important than a pair of free throws late in the game in a 1-and-1 situation. With his team struggling from the free throw line, Smith stepped up and knocked down two consecutive free throws to keep Dixie in front.
“I was thinking ‘If I miss these, the season is over,'” Smith said. “That’s all I was thinking. I practice my free throws so I had confidence.”
Dakota Bair added 10 points and Blake Barney finished with eight for the Flyers, who stay in the hunt for the fourth playoff spot in Region 9.
Fresh off a huge upset over Cedar, Canyon View never did get into any kind of a rhythm offensively. Corry and fellow guard McCoy Johnson finished with 11 points each, but the Falcons struggled from the field. Brady Barrett added eight points, but played tentatively after being whistled for a flagrant foul for a take-down on Cole Critchfield in the first quarter. The Falcons fall to 2-7 in region play and host Hurricane on Wednesday.
Dixie improves to 5-5 in the region and is clinging to a slight advantage over Pine View for the final region playoff spot. The Flyers host the Panthers on Wednesday in a match-up that will likely determine which of the two teams will advance to postseason play.
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