ST. GEORGE — Many were unsure this day would come, but on Thursday, Region 9 basketball opened nonconference play. Southern Utah’s 4A boys and girls took part in nine contests on opening day, going a collective 5-4. Desert Hills was the major winner of the day, winning both its boys and girls contests and doing so by a combined score of 134-93.
Desert Hills hosted day one of the Desert Hills Holiday Classic, and Pine View High School was the venue for the North vs. South Challenge. Other teams hit the road and spread out across the state.
But as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the country, it wasn’t a certainty that basketball would be played in the state at all, let alone in early December.
“I kept looking around wondering if someone was going to come shut it down,” Snow Canyon boys head coach Doug Meacham said. “It’s a privilege to play.”
An order by Gov. Gary Herbert on Nov. 9 immediately halted nearly all high school extracurricular activities, with few hints on whether winter sports would go the way of spring sports and be canceled altogether, but when Herbert’s order expired after two weeks and was not renewed, it gave way for the start of basketball season.
The Utah High School Activities Association declared Thursday as the first day for approved competition, and some of the teams were happy just to be back on the court, even if they ultimately lost their games.
“It feels real good,” Pine View boys head coach Ryan Eves said, despite his team turning a 13-point lead at halftime into a 14-point loss. “It gets my blood pumping.”
Following are the recaps of the region’s games from the first day of resumed competition of high school sports in Utah.
Pine View 66, Wasatch Academy 25
The Panthers ran up the score early and used stellar defense to take out the Wasatch Academy Tigers at Uintah High School in the Shanon Johnson Tournament.
Averi Papa scored 24 points and Alex Olson tallied 20, alone combining to outscore the Tigers. Papa hit 12 shots from the field.
Pine View scored 19 points in the first quarter and 18 in the third. After yielding 10 in the first, they allowed only nine points in the next two combined. The Tigers only scored from the field once in each of those frames – and only six from the field the entire game.
Head coach Ben Luce said the biggest thing for Pine View was controlling Wasatch Academy senior Nataly Dunka, who scored 16.9 points a game last season.
“The only adjustment we had to make was to make sure we were helping out cover her,” he said. “We just had to make sure we guarded her better, and it was good after that.”
Dunka landed only three field goals all game, two of which were three-pointers. She scored 13 of the Tigers’ points and was limited to only a trio of free throws in the middle periods.
Pine View plays again Friday in the next round of the tournament.
Hurricane 29, Richfield 46
Hurricane fell to Richfield in the first game of the Desert Hills Holiday Classic at Desert Hills High School. The Wildcats prevented the Tigers from scoring double-digits in any of the first three quarters before they reached 10 in the fourth frame. Hurricane committed 26 turnovers.
Senior Lydia Prince led the way with 14 points, including five hits from the field and an additional three-pointer. No other Tiger scored more than four points. Becca Poulson rattled off four three-pointers for Richfield, including three in an 11-point second quarter effort. Hurricane junior Haley Chesley recorded eight boards, five defensive, in the losing effort.
The Tigers return to action Friday in the next round of the Desert Hills Holiday Classic, taking on Salem Hills. Tip off is 5:30 p.m.
Dixie 55, Summit Academy 49
The Flyers squeaked by with a six-point victory at Summit Academy. They took a 17-3 lead in the first quarter, giving them some breathing room as the Bears settled in.
Senior Addyson Shaffer scored 22 points to lead the way for Dixie.
“I thought it was a very rough game for both teams, but thankfully we had a really good start that gave us a lead and a cushion so that we could settle down and try to execute,” Dixie coach Ryan Forsey said. “We’re a young team, in a semi-rebuilding mode, so we’re going to have growing pains for sure.”
Dixie faces two tough tests in the next couple of days, first at 6A Fremont on Friday then at 5A Orem on Saturday.
Desert Hills 60, Salem Hills 30
The Thunder girls defended their home court in the Desert Hills Holiday Classic, taking home the biggest margin of victory in all of Region 9 in a rout of Salem Hills.
Desert Hills’ Alivia Cluff, Julia Jacobsen and Shailee Bundy all tallied double-digit points as the Thunder ran away with 33 points in the first half. They didn’t allow more than 10 points in any individual quarter.
Desert Hills takes on Richfield on Saturday to wrap up the Holiday Classic. Tip off is 1 p.m.
Snow Canyon 71, Summit Academy 52
Sophomore Lyman Simmons scored 21 points and recorded seven boards to help lead Snow Canyon to a win at Summit Academy.
Simmons hit his only three-pointer in the first quarter, when the Warriors jumped out to an early 20-9 lead. The team poured on more in the second, as Simmons scored eight to help Snow Canyon to a 20-point lead at half.
Two other Warriors tallied double-digit points: seniors Lincoln Polatis and Blake Munson, who hit a team leading three three-pointers.
Head coach Doug Meacham said his team has played a higher level of physicality in practice that has translated to being tough in games and opening opportunities on both sides of the court. He highlighted charges taken by seniors Walker Morrison and Brenton Childs and junior Kaleb Anderson-Foreman as indicators that they’re willing to do what it takes physically.
“I was really happy with three different guys taking charges,” Meacham said. “This tells me that we have some toughness, and we have some guys trying to get in the right position to help their team. If we can fix some of those things, like defending better with our feet and managing the clock down the stretch, we might be pretty good.”
Meacham noted that his team’s toughness will be put to the test in its next few games, first at 5A Orem on Friday and then at 6A Cyprus on Saturday.
“This is what you like to find out in preseason,” he said. “What is our team character like? We will have a better idea after the next two days.”
Hurricane 57, Spanish Fork 63
Hurricane failed to capitalize on opportunities late to fall at Spanish Fork by only two possessions.
The Tigers held the lead 27-26 at halftime but missed a series of open shots in the third quarter that would end up costing them as the clock ticked down to the final moments with Hurricane just slightly behind the Dons.
“We missed a lot of easy shots, and we got outscored by six, and that turns out to be the difference in the game,” Hurricane coach Gordon Dotson said. “With about a minute left we cut the game to three points, but we could never get any closer.”
Hurricane turned the ball over 17 times, including 11 in the first half, factoring into the cushion the team took into the second half. It also sent Spanish Fork to the line for 21 shots, which the Dons took full advantage of, converting 16 times. Junior Cade Olson went 6-for-6.
“Clean things up and play more under control, and we will get much better,” Dotson said.
The Tigers travel to American Fork on Dec. 10 for the Caveman Tournament.
Desert Hills 74, Ridgeline 63
Desert Hills began its season on the right foot in the North vs. South Challenge hosted by Pine View High School, scoring the most points of any Region 9 team on the day.
“I was really proud of the boys,” Desert Hills head coach Chris Allred said. “I thought they did a real good job picking up where we left off in the fall and summer. Today was a good benchmark for us to see where we’re at.”
Thunder guard and Eastern Washington University commit Mason Landdeck hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, and his team never looked back from there.
Landdeck scored 11 of Desert Hills’ 24 points in the second quarter, giving it a 38-24 lead at the halfway point. He scored 24 points of his own on the day, hitting on six field goals on three three-pointers.
Senior Reggie Newby hit four three-pointers, all in the second and third quarters, to help his point total reach 14 on the day.
As Ridgeline tried to claw back from an 11-point deficit to open the fourth quarter, they got into foul trouble that only helped Desert Hills hold on to the lead. The Thunder went to the line 11 times in the fourth and converted on 10 of them, including six by Justin Judkins, who went 8-for-8 on one-pointers on the day.
Allred said the only things he saw as issues were things the team simply hasn’t been able to get to yet.
“Honestly, the negatives were the things we haven’t had time to coach yet,” he said. “I told the boys that there were some things defensively that hurt us. That’s on me as a coach. We just haven’t had time to work on it, missing those two weeks.”
Desert Hills trades opponents with Pine View and will take on Sky View on Friday. The Bobcats beat the host school Thursday night by 14 points.
Pine View 51, Sky View 65
A buzzer-beater three at the end of the third quarter gave Sky View the lead for the first time of the game, and the Bobcats rode it all the way through the fourth to victory against the Pine View Panthers at Pine View High School.
The Panthers led at halftime by 13 points, on the strength of defensive efforts that held Sky View to nine points in the first quarter and six in the second, but to open the second half, the Bobcats got “three happy,” scoring from beyond the arc four times in a 26-point third quarter.
Trailing by only one entering the fourth, Pine View got into foul trouble and gave up 24 more points in the final frame. The Bobcats landed 11 free throws in the last quarter alone.
“They outplayed us,” Pine View coach Ryan Eves said. “They had energy and effort. It’s just a tale of two halves. We played real hard, got stops defensively, knocked down shots. Second half, they just did the same thing to us.”
It was the second time Sky View topped Pine View in the past month, winning the 4A state championship football game on Nov. 21.
Pine View takes on Ridgeline on Friday in the conclusion of the North vs. South Challenge. Tip off is at 5:30 p.m.
Canyon View 44, Bear River 47
At Bear River, the Canyon View Falcons fell behind by as many as 13 points in the second half before rallying to pull within two points late in the game. However, the Falcons missed two shots in the last 10 seconds, enabling the Bears to escape with the win.
“We had a rough two middle quarters,” said Canyon View coach Robbie Potter. “We changed up our lineup and did some good things, but our inexperience showed at times.”
The Falcons will stay in Northern Utah for two more days as the Bear River Classic tournament continues. Canyon View is scheduled to face Ben Lomond at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Gunnison Valley at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
~ Written by Jeff Richards
St. George News / Cedar City News reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this report.
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