RICHFIELD — After a day filled with mostly blowouts Friday, prep basketball fans had high hopes for some excitement Saturday at the 3A Preview Tournament here in the Sevier Valley Center. They were not disappointed.
Pine View and Dixie escaped with buzzer-beater wins and Hurricane managed a close victory as well, while Desert Hills and Cedar won by much larger margins on a perfect day for Region 9 teams. Here’s a rundown of the day’s action.
Pine View 54, Grantsville 51
Tyler “Tybo” Johnston hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, about 23-feet away, as time expired to lift the Panthers to the stirring win in the first game of the day in Richfield.
Pine View led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but a late run by the Cowboys closed the gap. After a missed Pine View free throw left the door open, Grantsville’s Cameron Potter hit a trey from the right side to tie the game with eight seconds left.
Without calling a timeout, Pine View inbounded the ball and rushed up the court. Johnston, who had battled foul trouble all game and had just three points before the final shot, drifted to the left side. Standing just in front of his head coach, Darrell Larsen, Johnston squared up and launched the ball through the morning air. It hit nothing but net.
“I know it was in as soon as he let it go,” Larsen said. “He’s the guy who went for the steal and left their guy open for the 3 that tied it. But he made up for it in a big way. We’re happy Tybo is a part of this program.”
Johnston, who skipped basketball as a junior last season to focus on baseball, leads Pine View in 3-pointers made this year with 11 in four games.
“I love basketball and have played it all my life,” Johnston said. “Last year I just put my focus on baseball. But this year I just wanted to come out and give it my all and put in the hard work.”
It was a 13-3 run late in the game that got the Cowboys back in it. Potter, who finished with 17 points, was a big part of that. He left the game for a couple of minutes in the fourth quarter after getting banged up in a collision on the sideline. But he returned to hit two big 3-pointers in the Grantsville rally.
“We had taken a timeout when our guy was at the free throw line,” Larsen said. “We set up the last defensive set and we were supposed to keep everyone in front of us. But (Potter) made a big shot. I don’t think we would have gotten a better shot with a timeout after that, so I just let them play it out and Tybo got it right in front of us and it was all net.”
Cody Ruesch, a preseason all-region selection, played a whale of a game, scoring 18 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists. He was 8 for 13 from the floor. Six other Panthers scored at least five points, including Dylan Hendrickson (7), Steve Bangerter (6), Kade Moore (6), Trey Farrer (6), Johnston (6), and Brandon Yates (5).
Pine View improves to 3-1 with the win and will visit Canyon View Tuesday night before making the annual pilgrimage to Page, Ariz., for the NGS Tournament. PV has won the NGS Championship the past two seasons.
Dixie 66, Logan 65
Tyler Bennett is having a phenomenal start to the 2015-16 season and it continued with a SportsCenter-type highlight to end this one. Bennett drove the length of the floor in six seconds, dribbling around all five Logan defenders, then laid the ball up softly off the glass for the winning basket just before time expired.
It was an amazing finish to the game — fans likened it to the Tyus Edney NCAA Tournament drive or Danny Ainge’s epic drive vs. Notre Dame all those years ago — but perhaps never should have happened. Dixie led by 16 at the half and pushed the lead to 19 early in the third quarter.
But the sharp-shooting Grizzlies started climbing back into the game behind freshman sensation Rylan Jones. The ninth-grader had just two points at halftime, but exploded for 21 after intermission to help Logan take its first lead on a pair of free throws with 6.6 seconds left.
Dixie’s coaching staff used a timeout between the two free throws, presumably setting up the final winning drive by Bennett. Truthfully, everyone in the building knew Bennett would take the final shot and the strategy was probably pretty simple: give the ball to your best player and let him go win the game.
The final Logan defender tried to take a charge under the basket, but Bennett, who finished the game with 27 points, deftly avoided the contact as he was rising for the winning layup.
James Eardley had his best game of the season so far with 11 points and 11 rebounds and he helped Dixie build the monstrous lead. But Logan chipped away at it in the second half, pulling to within 48-38 after three quarters. The Grizzles tied it twice in the final minutes, but Dixie answered each call until a turnover late led to a foul that put Jones at the line in the closing seconds. Though just a freshman, he calmly sank both freebies , giving LHS its very short-lived lead.
Nate Crockett added 12 points for the Flyers, who improved to 2-1 on the season.
Dixie will host the Ken Robinson Classic next weekend with an 8 p.m. Friday game vs. Spanish Fork and a 3 p.m. Saturday game vs. Green Valley, Nev.
Desert Hills 65, Morgan 37
This was a strange game in that the Thunder started off horribly, falling behind by 11 points in the first quarter.
“For whatever reason, we were kind of lethargic,” DH coach Wade Turley said. “At the quarter break we talked about playing with more energy and we put the press on to try and wake the guys up. It worked.”
Desert Hills came out gangbusters in the second quarter, erasing the 11-point deficit in just over five minutes and then surging to a 29-26 halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Thunder really turned it on, scoring 21 while allowing just three points to Morgan.
Amazingly, Desert Hills allowed 19 points to the Trojans in the first quarter, and then 18 points the whole rest of the game.
Marcus McKone, who sat most of the first after picking up two fouls in the first two minutes, lit it up the rest of the game, scoring 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting, with six 3-pointers.
Logan Hokanson played well, keeping DH close in McKone’s absence. Hokanson finished with 14 points and 3 steals.
The Thunder allowed MHS to hit just four shots after halftime.
Desert Hills, 3-0, will play Spring Valley, Nev., Friday at Dixie High in the Ken Robinson Classic (6 p.m.) and then Spanish Fork Saturday at noon.
Hurricane 63, South Sevier 62
Josh Parker had a career-high 17 points as the Tigers fended off a furious rally by the Rams.
It was a pretty balanced night for the Tigers, who improved to 2-1 with the victory. Reagan Hinton had 16 points, Landon Barker added 14 and Kirt McDaniel dropped in 10 for Hurricane, which led 49-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
But South Sevier’s Caleb Barton hit four 3-pointers and rallied the Rams to the close finish.
Hurricane went 2-0 at the 3A Preview for the first time in several years. The Tigers have next week off and will try to extend their win streak dec. 16 in a home game against Richfield.
Cedar 56, Manti 43
The Redmen had an atrocious second quarter and went into the locker room down by a 29-23 margin — after having led 18-13 after one quarter.
Keenan Nielson continues to have an impressive junior season. he scored 23 points and is averaging 17 points a game for the 2-1 Redmen.
Mason Fakahua and Ethan Fletcher added 10 points each in the win for Cedar, which hosts Juab next Tuesday night.
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