ST. GEORGE – Snow Canyon and Desert Hills are upper echelon teams from region 9 and played like it Thursday night in the first round of the Rock Canyon Bank Holiday Classic.
The Lady Warriors pulled away late from fellow 3A contender Juan Diego and the Lady Thunder outpaced 4A Granger to capture season-opening victories.
Snow Canyon 67, Juan Diego 55
The Warriors pulled away from the visiting Soaring Eagle with a decisive fourth quarter. SC outscored Juan Diego 21-8 in the final stanza to win 67-55.
“I think we had some first-game jitters in the first half,” said Snow Canyon assistant coach Ryan Rarick. “The girls calmed down after the break. The shots that were not falling for us in the first half were going down in the second.”
Juan Diego jumped out quickly, taking 5-0 and 11-4 leads early in the first quarter. Warrior guard Sydney Bott scored six consecutive points near the end of the first period. The first three came on free throws after Bott was fouled on a 3-point attempt. Twenty seconds later, Bott nailed a 3-pointer to give Snow Canyon its first lead 13-11 with 30 seconds left.
Juan Diego’s Becca Curran reciprocated with a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to give the Eagles the lead back 14-13.
“We knew they had good shooters,” said Warrior wing Shaylee Reed. “They made some great plays to get their shooters open in the first half. We did not necessarily adjust, but just kept better track of their shooters in the second half and closed out on them better.”
The second quarter saw the teams go back and forth. The Warriors tied the score at 21-21 on post Lindsy McConnell’s rebound and put back. Nikenna Durante’s 3 with four minutes remaining in the half gave the Warriors the lead again, 24-21. Juan Diego wing Brynn Drummond nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game once again and the Eagles took the lead on two free throws by Brianna Veltri.
Preseason all-region selection Madison Mooring made three consecutive plays to end the half. Two assists to Reed sandwiched a drive and pull-up jumper in the lane. Reed’s second basket also drew a foul. Reed completed the three-point play to put Snow Canyon up 32-28 with 1:03 left. Once again Curran hit a shot before the intermission to pull the Eagles to within 32-30.
Mooring continued her playmaking in the third quarter. After beating the press and feeding Natalie Coulam for the layup, Mooring intercepted an Eagle pass and drove past the defenders for another layup to put the Warriors up 36-30 with only 25 seconds gone in the third.
“The coaches told us that we had not played close to what we are capable of,” said Mooring. “I took that as a challenge to be more aggressive and to get my teammates more involved in the game.”
Two consecutive 3-pointers by Drummond tied the game again. The Warriors responded with three consecutive baskets from McConnell and Durante. But the Eagles would score six consecutive points of their own to knot the score again at 42-all with just over three minutes remaining in the third.
Mooring hit three free throws on consecutive foul calls go put Snow Canyon up 46-43. But two baskets, the last another period-ending shot from Curran, gave the Eagles a one-point lead going into the fourth, 47-46.
Snow Canyon elevated its play in the fourth with tenacious defense and breaking the full-court press of the Eagles. Open drives to the basket that the Eagles enjoyed in the first half were quickly closed up with help-side defense in the fourth.
And the open long shots for Juan Diego were a rarity in the final period as well. Mooring scored 10 points in the quarter and assisted on three other baskets. Juan Diego’s leading scorer, Drummond, fouled out halfway through the period.
Individually, Mooring led all scorers with 19 points. Reed and Durante scored 14 and 10, respectively. For Juan Diego, Drummond and Curran scored 18 and 15 to lead the Soaring Eagle. Snow Canyon will face Pleasant Grove in the Rock Canyon Bank Holiday Classic at Desert Hills High School. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
Desert Hills 52, Granger 45
The Desert Hills Thunder dealt Granger its first loss of the season in its own season opener, 52-45. The Lancers drop to 2-1 on the season.
Neither team could get on track in the first period with Granger taking the two-point advantage 7-5. In the second period, the two teams stayed close, but the Thunder still faced a 25-24 halftime deficit.
Desert Hills came out after intermission and used the third quarter to pull away, scoring 14 points and holding the Lancers to only three. After three, the Thunder lead was in double digits, 38-28. Granger made a bit of a comeback, but never seriously challenged in the final quarter.
“I think we improved as the game progressed,” said Thunder head coach Ron Denos. “I am sure that there were some first-game jitters. But we made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball.”
“Fortunately for us, I think Granger ran out of gas in the second half,” said Denos. “Our conditioning helped us to overcome less than stellar play. We played better defense in the third quarter.”
The Thunder will host Salem Hills Friday night at 7:30 in the third game of a triple-header of the Rock Canyon Holiday Classic.
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