ST. GEORGE – Playing two games in one day did not bode well for the Dixie Flyers. After beating Manti in the morning game behind deadly shooting, the Flyers could not find the basket in the night game against Payson.
GAME 1 — Dixie 55, Manti 49 (10 a.m.)
Four minutes into the second quarter, the Dixie Flyers had connected on 8 of 12 baskets to lead 27-16 over the Manti Templars. They had hit only 1 of 5 from two-point land, but from beyond the arc Dixie was a perfect 7 for 7.
“They have talented big guys,” said Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff. “They shut down the lane and on our kickouts, we had shooters open. It started with Jake (Hawes) but continued with Tyler (Bennett) and Nate (Crockett).”
The Templar defense adjusted and made an 8-4 run to close the half within seven points, 31-24. Coming out from the break, the Templars pounded the ball inside to its big men, Dane Noordmark and Jared Schiess. Schiess, who sat out most of the first half in foul trouble, and Noordmark took advantage on open looks off back screens down low.
“Their offense is geared to get the ball to their bigs in almost unguardable lane position,” said Cuff. “We made some good switches and double-teams trying to throw them off-balance.”
Dixie maintained its seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter, 43-36. Schiess and Noordmark went to work again, scoring the first three buckets of the quarter and pulling the Templars within one, 43-42. After a Dixie timeout, the Flyers responded with a basket by Sam Guymon and two free throws from Bennett. The Templars continued pounding inside to Schiess and Noordmark and with two minutes left, Dixie’s lead was down to two, 49-47.
Guymon connected on 1 of 2 from the stripe at the 1:41 mark. Manti’s Trevor Alder responded with two free throws of his own and with one minute to go, the Flyers lead had dwindled to one, 50-49. Dixie pulled the ball out with their weave offense and the Templars were forced to foul. The Flyers hit 4 of 7 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“We went deeper in our bench than normal because of our game later tonight,” said Cuff. “But I don’t believe there was much of a talent drop off. Our subs played well.”
Manti’s Alder led all scorers with 17. Schiess added 11. For Dixie Hawes and Bennett scored 16 apiece.
The loss drops Manti to 2-4. The Templars will face Corner Canyon in their last game at the Red Rock Rumble tomorrow afternoon at 3:15.
GAME 2 — Payson 65, Dixie 43 (8:30 p.m.)
“We just did not come to play tonight,” said Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff. “Offensively we were not hitting, and defensively, we played lethargic.”
After controlling the tip, Jake Hawes scored immediately on a drive to put the Flyers up 2-0. Dixie would not score another field goal until halfway through the second quarter. Payson had no trouble finding easy shots and when the first quarter was over, the Lions had a 19-3 advantage. The carnage would continue in the second quarter as the Lions scored the first 12 points, leading 31-3 with six minutes left in the half.
Nate Crockett finally broke the run with a 3-pointer. Shortly afterward, Cuff called a timeout and replaced his normal rotation players with seldom-used substitutes. The half ended with Dixie facing a 40-11 deficit.
The second half saw Dixie’s normal rotation players come out with heightened intensity.
“I am proud of how they came out the second half,” said Cuff. “They could have given up and forgotten about this one. We outplayed them the second half, but the hole we were in was too deep.”
The intense play led to several foul calls on both teams. Dixie was able to turn over the Lions several times, but Payson pulled the ball out early in the fourth quarter to protect their 20-plus point lead. The Flyers never got the lead under 20 and the night ended with a 65-43 score.
Payson’s Daniel Reno led all scorers with 20 points. Dallin Rowley and Steven Van Moos finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Flyers were led by Tyler Bennett with nine points.
The win ends a 3-game skid for Payson as the Lions move to 6-4. They play Saturday at 5 p.m. against Viewmont. The loss drops Dixie to 6-3. The Flyers will end their Red Rock Rumble Invitational against North Sevier at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
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