ST. GEORGE – The Dixie Flyers extended their winning streak to seven games by easily handling region foe Snow Canyon 85-66 Friday night from the Jungle Gymnasium at SCHS.
The Warriors closed to within three points midway through the third quarter. But the Flyers quickly got the lead back to double-digits to close the quarter and never looked back in the fourth. Dixie’s pressure defense and long-range accuracy spelled doom for any chance of a late Warrior comeback.
“We called a timeout after their run and stressed defense,” said Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff. “It was a fast-paced game, which we like. Our defense was better closing out the third and into the fourth quarter. “
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Both teams stayed pretty even through the first quarter. The Warriors used an inside-out game against Dixie’s man-to-man defense. Brad Gresenti hit two treys while Justin Loveless used his massive build for some easy shots inside.
“They got (Loveless) the ball where he likes it,” said Cuff. “We had to use our bigs, Ethan Langford and Richard Guymon, more than we usually do. Their length kept (Loveless) in check for most of the night.”
Brock Staheli hit two shots in the last two minutes of the first to pull the Warriors even at 15. The Flyers Nate Crockett hit a corner trey to finish the first-quarter scoring and put Dixie back on top, 18-15.
After Staheli completed a three-point play to open the second and pull the Warriors even, Dixie would double up Snow Canyon the remainder of the half outscoring them 24-12. Dixie guard R.J. Wilgar got into early foul trouble, forcing him to the bench. Upon his exit, Jake Hawes and Tyler Bennett provided most of the damage, scoring 18 points between them. Crockett and Wilgar added two 3-pointers, both off assists from Bennett, to close the half. The Flyers lead was 12 at intermission, 42-30.
“(Tyler) Bennett is equally effective distributing the ball or finishing the play,” Cuff said. “Both he and (Malachi) Otis did well setting up our shooters tonight.”
The Warriors opened the second half on an 11-2 run, again with Loveless creating havoc in the post. His third basket of the quarter cut the Flyer lead to three points, 44-41, with 4:09 to play. Loveless would pick up his fourth foul shortly afterward and would take a seat on the bench. The Flyers would close the quarter on an 11-4 run.
In the fourth quarter, the Flyers quickly extended their lead. Hawes’ runner in the lane gave Dixie a 19-point lead, 68-49, with less than three minutes gone in the fourth. Wilgar made up for lost time in the first half by scorching the Warriors with 10 second-half points.
“I got into foul trouble early,” Wilgar said. “Then I missed a few to begin the game. After a couple of free throws, my shots started falling.”
The Warriors would claw back, pulling to within 12 on two occasions, the latter on two free throws from Loveless. But they could pull no closer. Both teams emptied their benches with two minutes left to play. The Dixie reserves would extend the lead to its largest at 83-62 with just under one minute to play. The Warriors closed on a 4-2 run with two baskets from backup guard Caleb Heward to get to the final margin, 85-66.
Loveless led the Warriors with 17 points. He was joined in double-figures by Staheli and Gresenti with, 13 and 12, respectively.
Hawes led all scorers with 26 points. His teammates joining him in double figures were Wilgar (15), Bennett (14), and Crockett, who scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.
The Warriors have now dropped 6 of their last 7 after opening the season 5-2. They are 6-8 overall and 2-4 in region play. They will travel to Pine View next Friday.
Dixie improved to 12-3, (4-1 in region). The Flyers will host Canyon View on Wednesday night.
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