ST. GEORGE — When the Dixie Flyers play defense like they did Friday night against Cedar, they are scary good.
Dixie held Cedar to 19 points in the first half en route to an easy 65-46 victory at the Hangar to all but clinch third place in Region 9.
“The first half, that’s the best defense we’ve played all year,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “They hit a couple of shots on us early, but we just kept going on defense. Our kids are in good condition and we just knew we’d be in good shape.”
Jake Hawes nearly outscored the entire Redmen squad in the first 16 minutes, netting 18 points by intermission. He made four 3-pointers in the first half and missed just two shots in the first two quarters as the Flyers raced out to a 41-19 halftime edge.
“Jake was in a good rhythm and I think he took good shots tonight,” Cuff said. “When he starts hitting shots, more guys start running out at him and the coach’s mentality is for him to get to the basket and he did a good job with that as well.”
Hawes finished the game with 25 points, but didn’t play much after the third quarter. Cedar never really challenged Dixie, never getting the deficit under 17 points.
“Our high intensity defense and pressure on the ball really got us going in the first half,” DHS guard Tyler Bennett said. “Our coaches have really been on us to hold teams under 10 points in a quarter and we’ve really been working hard on defense, practicing it a lot.”
Cedar tried to stay with the hot Flyers. Kyle Wood had nine points in the first quarter, but even with that, Dixie had already forged a 20-12 lead by quarter’s end. The Flyers then upped the ante in the second, with Hawes hitting a fourth trey to start things off, then a couple of fast break layups and a 3-pointer by Nate Crockett. By the time the dust had cleared, the 22-point lead was on the board and the thunderstruck Cedar players were shuffling to the locker room.
The Redmen tried to rally in the third quarter, but every mini-run was met by a big shot by Hawes, Bennett or RJ Wilgar. The crowd was even starting to lose interest until Bennett anticipated a Cedar pass and tipped it to himself. The breakaway led to a two-handed flush at the other end.
“We did some really good things on defense tonight,” Cuff said. “We’re very happy with the win and we’re very excited to face Snow Canyon next at our place.”
Wilgar had 11 points and Bennett added 10, with seven different Flyers scoring at least four points in the blowout. Dixie made seven 3-pointers, while holding Cedar to zero long bombs.
Wood led Cedar with 20 points, while Ben Brown added 12.
Dixie, now 7-3 in Region 9, clinches (at worst) the No. 3 spot from the region, and still has hopes of moving up to second or even first. The Flyers are one game behind Desert Hills (8-2) and a game and a half behind Pine View. Dixie hosts Snow Canyon Wednesday and then closes the regular season with a road game at Canyon View next Friday.
Cedar, 10-8 and 5-5 in region, is still in line for a playoff spot. The Redmen need just one win in their final two games to clinch (or a loss by Hurricane and Snow Canyon). Cedar closes the season with a home game against Hurricane Wednesday night and then a road game at Pine View next Friday.
Stats: Dixie 65, Cedar 46
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