ST. GEORGE — The Dixie Flyers had a score to settle with Cedar and did so in dominating fashion Friday night. Meanwhile, Snow Canyon needed a win in coach James Brown’s final regular season game to make the 3A State Tournament. The Warriors got that done as well. And Pine View needed a fourth-quarter rally at home, but also got it done against Hurricane on the last night before the state playoffs.
Here’s a look at the action:
Dixie 76, Cedar 48
Looking to atone for their only region loss of the season, the Flyers came out on fire and never let up in the blowout win at home.
Tyler Bennett, as he has done all season, led the way for Dixie with 21 points. Connor Dyches hit four 3-pointers en route to a 14-point night and the duo of Malachi Otis and Nate Crockett had 11 points each.
With the region title and the No. 1 seed all sewn up, Dixie could have played the game safe, resting the stars and using the junior varsity. But there was no chance of that after Cedar’s win over Dixie earlier this season.
“We wanted to play them again the moment we lost,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “There was no way I could have held these guys out for this game. They wouldn’t have let me. Our seniors stepped up and made sure that we were ready.”
Two of those seniors, Bennett and Crockett, started the game with 3-point plays, helping Dixie to an 8-4 advantage two minutes into the contest. Moments later, Crockett hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 16-9. A 3-point play by Cedar’s Keenan Nielson cut it to 16-12, but Richard Guymon and Kaden Elzy scored baskets to push the lead to 20-12 at the end of the first quarter.
And really, Dixie was just getting warmed up.
Another 3-point play by Bennett and a pair of free throws from the preseason Region 9 MVP gave Dixie its first double-digit lead at 25-14 90 seconds into the second quarter.
The Redmen kept it relatively close with 17 points in the second period, with Mason Fakahua (17 points) doing most of the damage. It was 44-29 at the half and Dixie scored 22 more in the third to push the lead to an insurmountable 66-45 heading into the final stanza.
“All week in practice, the guys said they didn’t want to celebrate or cut down any nets until we finished the year right and beat Cedar,” Cuff said. “Tonight, we finally got to cut them down. It feels really nice. We’re very happy. But tomorrow it’s back to work.”
Dixie shot the ball extremely well, making 26 of 49 field goals (53 percent) and 18 for 18 free throws. Bennett hit all nine of his attempts. The Flyers turned the ball over just four times in the contest.
For Cedar, which ends up 3-7 in region and in fifth place, Parker Haynie joined Fakahua in double figures with 11 points. Nielson, a junior, ended the contest with a sub-par 9 points, well below his 17 points a game average. He had been scoring 25.3 ppg the last four games.
Dixie, 19-4 overall and 9-1 in region, will host a first-round playoff game next Saturday at 5 p.m. against Stansbury from Region 10. The Stallions went 2-5 in their region and are 5-17 overall.
Stats: Dixie 76, Cedar 48
Snow Canyon 54, Desert Hills 46
Coach Brown will have to wait at least one more week before he hangs up his whistle.
Brown, who announced his retirement from coaching on Wednesday, will get to coach at least one more game as his Warriors topped the Thunder and snagged the final playoff spot from Region 9 in the process.
“These kids earned themselves a chance to
play for a state title,” Brown said. “I didn’t hear until the very end that Cedar had lost, and that gave me a bigger smile and a happier face. I’m just really proud of the kids. They could have folded a long time ago, but they just kept battling, kept battling.”
It was truly a team effort, with seven different Snow Canyon players scoring at least 5 points in the game. And to secure the win, the Warriors hit 9 of 10 free throws in the last two minutes.
“I don’t have an individual on this team that can go off for 30 points on a consistent basis, so we have to play good team basketball,” Brown said. “We have to make sure we do it with each other and for each other.”
Hunter Hammer was tops with 10 points, with Kobe Tupu and TJ Taimi scoring 9 each.
Snow Canyon won the battle of the boards 28-18 and led most of the game. The Warriors had a 4-point edge at halftime and stretched it out into the 8-10 point range early in the fourth quarter. The Thunder pulled to within 5 a couple of times in the fourth, but that sharp free throw shooting preserved the win. SC was 17 for 19 from the line, 89.5 percent.
Brown, who has coached for 15 years at Snow Canyon, winning numerous state region championships and the 2002 state title, was understandably emotional after the game.
“I’m feeling very blessed,” he said. “I kind of took everybody by surprise the other night, including my own kids and I don’t know if that was really fair for them. But they really responded tonight. I am very pleased for the gift that I’ve been given with the kids getting us back to the state playoffs. It’s time. I have had a great ride, a lot of fun. Now it’s time for somebody else to be in charge.”
For Desert Hills, Tanner Turley stepped up to score 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Leading scorers Marcus McKone and Logan Hokanson both struggled shooting the ball in the game. They combined to go 8 for 23 from the floor, with Hokanson ending with 15 points and McKone 9. As a team, D-Hills was 18 for 42, for 43 percent.
The Thunder, 16-5 overall and 6-4 in region, still end up as the No. 2 seed by virtue of their sweep of fellow second-place team Pine View. DH will host Tooele Saturday (likely 6 p.m. start) in the first round of the playoffs. The Buffaloes are 12-9 overall and finished third in Region 10 with a 4-3 record. Tooele has only played one Region 9 school, losing to Hurricane 52-47 at the 3A preview in Richfield.
The Warriors, 9-12 and 4-6, will travel to Region 10 champ Union next Saturday. Brown said he hopes to play the game mid-afternoon, but no time has been set yet. The Cougars are 13-9 overall and went 7-1 in Region 10. Union played Desert Hills and Cedar in the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic in Cedar City over the holiday break, losing to the Thunder 57-35 and falling to the Redmen 41-35.
Pine View 47, Hurricane 41
It might not have been a double-dog dare, but it certainly was a dare and Kade Moore finally took the bait. And it’s a good thing for Pine View.
The Tigers basically dared Pine View to shoot the 3-ball Friday night, packing it in with a tight 2-3 zone the entire game to try and slow down Panther posts Cody Ruesch and Trey Farrer. Moore, who had been saddled with foul trouble, finally decided he needed to shoot over the zone in the fourth quarter.
His fourth-quarter 3-pointer gave the Panthers their first lead since the second quarter and helped propel Pine View to the eventual win. The Tigers had held the advantage since a Jackson Last 3-pointer put them ahead 21-10 with 4:07 left in the second.
“It was frustrating having to sit with foul trouble. I was mad,” Moore said. “But I feel like 3-point shooting is the best part of my game. I just went out there with confidence and hit it.”
The trey put the Panthers ahead 41-38 after they had trailed by as many as seven in the third quarter and was part of an 11-0 Pine View run. The late-game surge was very similar to a 10-2 fourth-quarter spurt that elevated the Panthers past the Tigers the first time the two teams met.
“We were kind of off our rhythm tonight and credit goes to Hurricane for that,” Pine View coach Darrell Larsen said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being patient against the zone. Rebounding was huge tonight. We got outrebounded in the first half, but turned it around in the second.”
Dylan Hendrickson also had an important 3 to start the fourth quarter as the Panthers started the period down 36-31.
“Move the ball, move the ball, just keep reversing it and eventually it’ll open up,” said Pine View guard Steve Bangerter. “That 3 by Moore woke our crowd up, woke our team up. That was huge. That swung the momentum. Dylan stepped up, too. He was ready, coming off the bench. That’s what we needed.”
With the score 44-38, Hurricane was able to get 3 quick points from Riley Ballard and Kirt McDaniel and had the ball with a chance to tie with 30 seconds left. But a Landon Barker trey try was off the mark and Ballard was called for an intentional foul, effectively sealing the win for PV.
Cody Ruesch led Pine View with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Brandon Yates was right there with him with 10 points and 9 boards. The Panthers made just 5 of 19 3-pointers in the game, but were 2 for 4 in the fourth quarter. PV won the rebound battle 26-23.
Hurricane was led by Reagan Hinton with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Ballard finished with 10 points and 10 boards.
The Panthers will open the 3A playoffs with a road game at Grantsville next Saturday. Game time has yet to be determined, but it should be a good battle with the 13-8 Panthers and the 11-11 Cowboys. GHS was 5-2 in Region 10 play, good enough for second place. The two teams met in early December at the 3A Preview in Richfield, with Ruesch (18 points, 10 rebounds) leading Pine View to a 54-51 victory.
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