ST. GEORGE — Tuesday afternoon, the playoff picture in Region 9 girls basketball was as clear as a flood-swelled Santa Clara River. But with three games in the books Tuesday night, a crystal clear playoff picture has begun to emerge.
Snow Canyon and Pine View notched their fifth region wins — the Warriors with an easy win and the Panthers with a nailbiter — and Desert Hills pulled into fourth place with a key road win at Dixie, just a day after naming Ron Denos the interim head coach.
That puts SC and PV at 5-3 in region, two and a half games behind Cedar, who had a bye Tuesday night. The Lady Thunder are close behind at 4-4 and Canyon View and Dixie have fallen off the pace a bit. CV is 3-4 and Dixie is 3-5.
Desert Hills 67, Dixie 46
It’s a new era at Desert Hills, with Denos taking over the reins as coach. His first item of business?
“I was worried about the girls and my focus was on bringing them back together,” he said after the impressive 21-point road win. “The past is past. We’re looking to the future. I thought (former coach) Gary (Tomlinson) did a good job of preparing these girls. My job is to take them and go forward and I did it by just building and having trust and faith in each other.”
The Lady Thunder opened the second half on a big run, turning a 32-30 halftime edge into a 39-30 lead within two minutes of the start of the third quarter. Dixie hung tough and was within 47-40 with three minutes left in the third, but another scoreless stretch killed the Flyers. Desert Hills scored 10 consecutive points, highlighted by a pair of Beckstrand 3-pointers and a couple of flashy assists by the D-Hills point guard, and at 57-40, the fourth quarter was mostly a formality.
Dixie played well early and a 7-0 run at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second had the Flyers on top by six at 22-16. Aubri Challis had a 3-pointer to start the streak, but the Thunder answered immediately and went on a 9-2 run through the middle part of the second quarter to take a 25-24 lead. Sisters Kylie and Elly Williams were instrumental in the run.
The game stayed tight the rest of the second. Ashley Beckstrand hit two free throws to put DH on top 32-30 at intermission. In the second half, DH outscored Dixie 35-16.
The Thunder looked pretty sharp, considering their head coach resigned last Friday and they’d only had one practice with their new coach, who was not on staff. But Denos, who is the head golf coach at Desert Hills and was an assistant on last year’s championship team, seems to have fit right in with his new role.
“It’s not an easy thing to deal with and everybody understands that,” Beckstrand said. “We were just really focused on teamwork and coming together as one and just really digging down on defense. That’s what Coach Denos really wanted to stress tonight was that team defense would lead to easy buckets on the other end.”
Beckstrand had a very efficient 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. She also had a lot of help. She dished out seven assists and a lot of those went to Elly Williams, who also notched 21 points.
“Coach Denos wanted me to show my teammates that I trusted them,” Beckstrand said. “I wanted to get the other girls involved and get them on the scoreboard as well. It’s good to know that they’re ready to catch the ball and they’ll score it, too.”
Beckstrand and Williams are both sophomores, while Kylie Williams (8 points) and Kenzie Done (12 points) are only juniors.
“It doesn’t feel weird to be playing this much as a sophomore,” Elly Williams said. “I am very comfortable out there. I trust in my teammates and the big thing is just knowing where to be and when.”
D-Hills was 24 for 67 in the game, 42 percent. Bit the Thunder held Dixie to just 19 of 76, a dismal 26 percent. The Thunder also held a 58-45 advantage in rebounds.
Estridge and Challis led Dixie in scoring. Estridge had 14 and Challis had 11, though the two Dixie leaders combined to hit just 11 of 43 shots.
The Thunder are 10-7 overall, 4-4 in region with a non-region Thursday game coming up against Quest Prep from the Las Vegas area.
Dixie, 10-7 and 3-5, has a rivalry game Thursday night against Pine View. The two teams met at Dixie earlier this month with the Lady Flyers emerging with a 61-51 victory.
Pine View 54, Hurricane 52
The Lady Tigers nearly pulled off the road upset, rallying from a 14-point third quarter deficit to cut it to one in the fourth quarter.
Down 42-28 early in the third, Hurricane rallied for a 14-2 run to close out the quarter. Pine View held a 46-42 lead when Taylor Anderson nailed a 3-pointer to get the Tigers the closest they’d been all night at 46-45.
Pine View was able to answer on an offensive putback by Amber Archibald to make it 48-45. Sarrah Pierce and Tayvia Ah Quin would each hit a pair of free throws to make it 52-45, but Hurricane would rally again.
London Steglich and Jayden Langford scored around two more Pierce freebies to make it 54-49. After a defensive stop and with time winding down, Steglich assembled a three-point play to cut it to 54-52 with just seconds remaining.
The Tigers fouled Ah Quin, who missed her one and one free throw. But Pierce was there for the offensive board. She was fouled, but missed both free throws. Returning the favor, Ah Quin captured the offensive board and time ran out on the Tigers rally.
Pine View’s poor free throw shooting helped keep Hurricane in the game. The Panthers made just 12 of 26 from the stripe, 46 percent.
Ah Quin led Pine View with 16 points and 9 rebounds and Archibald added 10 points and 3 assists. Pierce and Natasha Fiame had eight points each as the Panthers moved to 9-5 overall and 5-3 in region. PV hosts Dixie Thursday night.
The hard-luck Tigers fall to 2-15 overall and 0-8 in region. Hurricane is at Snow Canyon Thursday night.
Snow Canyon 50, Canyon View 31
The Lady Warriors were fierce on defense, allowing just 13 points in the first half in building a 12-point lead en route to the win.
SC has done it mostly with defense the last three games. Against Dixie, Pine View and now Canyon View, the Warriors have allowed just 40.3 points per game.
Snow Canyon hit six 3-pointers against the Falcons and had six different players score at least four points each.
The Warriors are tied for second with Pine View in region play at 5-3. SC is 8-10 overall and hosts Hurricane Thursday night.
The Lady Falcons, 5-12 overall and 3-5 in region, were led by Shontae Clark’s 12 points. Canyon View still has playoff hopes, but will have a toughie Thursday night as the Falcons host first-place Cedar.
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