ST. GEORGE — There was an electric atmosphere in the Jungle Gymnasium in anticipation of what had been billed as a battle of perhaps the two best big men in Region 9: Snow Canyon’s 6-foot-7 Nate Gottfredson and Cedar City’s 6-foot-8 Dustin Staggs. The crowd was not disappointed in what turned out to be a hard-fought game with the Warriors pulling out a 55-52 victory.
Gottfredson picked up four fouls on the way to a 16-point night, while Staggs earned 11 points in what turned out to be a physical game in the paint. Staggs started off strong, sinking the first three shots for the Redmen. The game got heated with just 3:05 left in the first quarter when Brock Staheli garnered a technical foul.
Cedar City’s Kordan Nielson who averages 16.3 points per game, hit a field goal at the end of the first quarter, knotting the score at 12. Nielson was deadly throughout the night and went on to be the leading scorer in the game, hitting three treys and ending with 25 points.
The second quarter was largely dominated by Nielson, who ended the half with 20 points and sunk a three at the buzzer, putting the Redman on top 34-24 at the intermission.
The third quarter started out with physical play in the post again with the Redmen applying the pressure to Gottfredson in the post. With 6:04 left in the quarter and the score 36-27 in favor of the Redmen, things got heated and Gottfredson got pegged with a technical foul.
The Warriors pulled within six points with the score 37-31 when Gottfredson was forced to sit down after picking up his fourth foul with 4:23 left in the quarter.
In the third, Nielson was held to just three points and the Warriors battled to within three when Tanner Sampson hit a trey at the 3:23 mark. The quarter ended with the Redmen leading 41-40.
In the fourth quarter, Hayden Anderson, who scored 9 points, made up for the absence of Gottfredson by playing some aggressive defense and blocking shots.
“Hayden Anderson came in and did a tremendous job for us defending him (Staggs), made him work real hard,” Warriors coach James Brown said.
“They came out really strong and you just get through that with hard work, rebound; defense,” Anderson said.
With 5:17 left in the fourth quarter, Gottfredson returned to the game and wasted no time in converting a nice shot underneath the basket, putting the Warriors in front 48-45.
The game went down to the wire, with just 47.5 left in the final period and the Warriors leading 52 to 51, Tanner Sampson picked up his fifth personal foul, sending Cedar’s Kole Dotson to the line. Dotson tied the score at 52 by hitting the first free throw, but missing the second.
There was a fight for possession of the ball on the missed free throw and Gottfredson was fouled. He hit both shots, giving the Warriors a 53-52 lead. With just 3.9 seconds left the Redmen’s Weston Bettridge threw a pass that ended up in the hands of the Warriors Warner Rigby, who was immediately fouled. Rigby sank both free throws to give the Warriors the win.
“I need to be in the game,” Gottfredson said. “I think if I would have been in the game more, I would have had a few more points.”
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