ST. GEORGE — Just when we think we have Region 9 figured out, the crazy strikes again.
Canyon View, which twice flirted with upsets in overtime losses to Pine View this year, this time finished things on the upside, surprising Desert Hills and a rowdy Thunderdome with a 69-65 overtime victory over the Thunder. Meanwhile, Snow Canyon, which has had the worst stretch of games in coach James Brown’s 13-year tenure, played like region contenders before falling at Dixie 58-53. And Hurricane, fighting for its playoff life, fell just inches short of forcing an overtime at Cedar.
When the dust had cleared on a weird Wednesday, Pine View (which didn’t play) found itself all alone in first place, Desert Hills was staring at possible tiebreakers with Dixie for a second seed and Cedar had finally secured the No. 4 spot in region and a playoff berth.
Here’s a rundown of the night of action.
Dixie 58, Snow Canyon 53
Flyers forward Ethan Langford came into Wednesday night’s game averaging 3.3 points a game and had a career scoring high of eight points and rebounding high of five. But on senior night, the Dixie 12th-grader played the game of his life, making 9 of 10 shots for 18 points, plus 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. His final block came with time running down and the Flyers nursing a two-point lead. He resoundingly rejected a tying shot attempt by SC leading-scorer Jacob Frei.
Langford did a lot of helping for his Dixie team Wednesday night. The Flyers desperately needed his shooting effort. His 90-percent night was in stark contrast to the rest of the team, which combined to make just 14 of 49 shots (29 percent).
“He’s a gamer,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “I’m just so happy for him. Being a senior, his last game here, being such a great team player and getting other guys involved, and then being able to finish the way he did. Wow. He never forces a shot and he let’s the game come to him. For us to have that inside presence tonight was huge.”
Late in the game, Brad Gresenti hit a 3-pointer that had given the Warriors a 53-51 lead. Before the SC fans could get even finish celebrating the basket, Langford snagged a pass inside and scored the tying bucket with 2:24 left. With the clock ticking down under two minutes to go, SC got three shots in a row off. After the third, a Brock Staheli effort in the lane, Langford cleared the rebound.
Dixie then took the lead on a tough layup on the baseline by RJ Wilgar to make it 55-53 with 1:23 left in the game. The Warriors took a time out and then worked for a good look. Kade Potter missed a runner from the right baseline, but the airball was snatched by Frei, who slashed along the left baseline. His shot was denied by Langford and Snow Canyon was forced to foul with 37 seconds to play.
Tyler Bennett missed the one and one, but Izaic Blazzard secured the offensive rebound and Dixie took a time out. After the huddle, Wilgar was fouled and made one shot to make it 56-53 with 14 seconds left. The Warriors tried a long trey, but Potter’s 30-footer was not close and Dixie was able to ice the game with two bennett free throws with three seconds remaining.
“I like that we had this close one,” Cuff said. “This was a game we needed heading into state. We believed in each other and saw that we could execute at the right time and get the W.”
Wilgard contributed 16 for the Flyers, who struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 9 for 19. Wilgar made just 3 of 8, though he did shoot better from the floor with a 6-13 performance. Bennett added 13 points, but leading-scorer Jake Hawes had just eight points on 3 for 13 shooting. Dixie won the rebounding battle 46-37.
The Flyers, 16-5 overall and 8-3 in region, are now tied for second place with Desert Hills. However, the Thunder own the tiebreaker on Dixieand will be the second seed if both teams win on Friday. Dixie closes the year at Canyon View.
Snow Canyon led by as many as six points in the second half, thanks mostly to the inside game of Justin Loveless. The 6-foot-5 junior was 9 for 12 in the game for his 18 points. He was also a factor in the rebounding and blocked shot categories. The Warriors, who finish the season 7-13 overall and just 3-9 in region, were just 4 of 19 on 3-pointers (21 percent) and hit 23 of 60 overall from the floor (42 percent). SC had just six free throw attempts in the game, making three.
Canyon View 69, Desert Hills 65 (F/OT)
DH’s Quincy Mathews sent the game into overtime with a gutty 3-pointer at the end of regulation, but CV’s Ty Nielson one-upped him with a huge trey in overtime and the Falcons held on for the stunning road victory.
Nielson gave Canyon View a 60-58 lead with 40 seconds left on a 10-foot jumper. Mathews drew a foul with 19 seconds to play, but he missed both free throws, forcing the Thunder to foul. DH tabbed Brantzen Blackner, who hit 1 of 2 freebies to make it 61-58 with 14 seconds to go. Mathews then atoned for the FT misses by nailing a 3-pointer with 6.5 to go. A last-second shot by the Falcons was off the mark.
In the overtime, a Nielson jumper was matched by Marcus McKone layup to make it 63-63. A pair of Mathews free throws halfway through the OT gave the Thunder their only lead of the overtime at 65-63. Moments later, a Blackner free throw cut it to 65-64, setting up the big play by Nielson, who worked free for an open look and buried the 3-pointer to put CV ahead 67-65.
The two teams traded two turnovers each over the closing seconds of the game before DH finally was forced to foul Blackner again. This time the Falcon freshman buried both free throws and the upset was secure.
Nielson finished the game with 27 points, including three treys. Keaton Kringlen had 14 points and Blackner finished with 11 for the Falcons, who improve their record to 8-12 overall and 2-9 in region. CV finishes its season Friday at home vs. Dixie.
Desert Hills, which fell to 15-6 and 8-3 in region, got 23 from Mathews and 10 from McKone. DH can clinch second place and a home playoff game with a win Friday at home against Hurricane. The Thunder have lost three of their last four games after starting region 7-0. Pine View now holds the tiebreaker over D-Hills, regardless of what happens Friday, so the Panthers will be the No. 1-seeded team heading into the playoffs, but DH holds the tiebreaker over Dixie for second place.
Stats: CV 69, DH 65
Cedar 41, Hurricane 38
Defense was the order of the day in this one, with the teams combining for just 12 points in the fourth quarter. Keenan Nielsen’s basket in the lane with just over three minutes left gave the Redmen a 39-38 lead and turned out to be the last field goal of the night.
Kaden Langston’s 3-pointer at the buzzer caromed off the back rim at then end of the game, crushing the playoff hopes the Tigers had built up during their recent surge in region.
The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than five points. Hurricane’s last lead came with about three and a half minutes to play on a layup by Jayden Long.
The Redmen, who were led by Nielson with 13 and Kyle Wood with 10, clinched fourth place and will travel to either Payson or Richfield in the first round of the playoffs next week. Cedar, 11-8 overall and 6-5 in region, finishes its regular season with a road game at Pine View Friday.
Hurricane, which got 12 from James Bennion and 11 from Reagan Hinton, is eliminated from the playoffs with the loss. The Tigers, 6-15 overall and 3-8 in region, finish their season with a road game at Desert Hills Friday.
Stats: Cedar 41, Hurricane 38
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