ST. GEORGE — Haley Bodnar is long gone, hooping it up at Purdue University. Blair Bliss and the other stars from last year’s Desert Hills state championship team are gone, too. Even the coach, Chris Allred, is now an assistant with the boys team. But that fiery desire to be a champion is still burning strong.
Two players that did get significant playing time during that championship run were Ashley Beckstrand and Kenzie Done.
“More than anything, along with the experience we have, is knowing how to control the emotions,” Beckstrand said. “It’s so easy to get caught up and get upset at the refs or the parents from the other team. I think that’s what me and Kenzie (Done) can bring, just ‘Hey, we’ve got to tune them out, stay together.’ Stick together as a team and we can do great things.”
Beckstrand had 18 points and Done added 11 Saturday as Desert Hills blew the game open in the third quarter. With a 19-14 edge at intermission, the Lady Thunder opened the second half with a 9-2 run, sparked by a couple of Beckstrand mid-range jumpers and a Kylie Williams 3-pointer. The spurt opened up the lead to 28-16 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
North Sanpete’s Aubrey Madsen briefly delayed the blowout with a pair of 3-pointers to make it a 28-22 game with 4:20 left in the third. But Beckstrand hit a trey and JV star Jessie Creer showed her shooting prowess translates to the varsity level by hitting two treys to turn the game into a runaway once and for all. DH outscored the Lady Hawks 36-22 after halftime.
North Sanpete used 11 offensive rebounds to stay in the game in the first half, somewhat offsetting a miserable 5 for 25 shooting from the floor. For the game, the Hawks were 13 of 53 (24.5 percent) from the floor and 7 of 18 from the line (38.9 percent).
Conversely, Desert Hills shot pretty well, especially in the second half. The Thunder were 22-42 from the floor (52.4 percent), including 5-10 from behind the arc. Beckstrand and Creer were both 2 for 4 from deep.
With no real post presence, it remains to be seen if the Thunder can contend for it all next week. But Beckstrand said she thinks the team has what it takes to make a run.
“You know, why not us?” she said. “Why not? We’re just going to give it everything we’ve got and go full force and we’ll see what we can do.”
DH will begin its run at a second straight title beginning Thursday evening at 7:30 against Juan Diego. The Soaring Eagle, which beat Grantsville 61-26 Saturday, is one of the favorites to win it all and sports a perfect 22-0 record, including a preseason win over eventual 5A champion Brighton.
Desert Hills, 15-7, has won six straight since Ron Denos took over as head coach.
The Hawks, who got 14 points from post Jacey Dunn, finish the season 15-7.
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