Region 9 boys basketball: Crimson survives barnburner, Dixie routs Desert Hills to snap unbeaten streak

ST. GEORGE — In Region 9 boys basketball action Friday night, the Dixie Flyers handed Desert Hills its first loss of the season, while Crimson Cliffs withstood multiple comebacks by Cedar to also win at home. Following are recaps of Friday’s games, which are just one game away from the regular season’s midway point.

Crimson Cliffs 78, Cedar 73

At Crimson Cliffs, the Mustangs prevailed in a see-saw battle against the Cedar Reds, 78-73.

Crimson jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first couple minutes of the game, but Cedar drained successive 3-pointers to pull within one point, 15-14, with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.

Cedar at Crimson Cliffs, Washington City, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Crimson took a four-point lead into the second quarter, but Cedar’s Gaige Savage and Dallin Grant each scored a bucket in the opening minute to tie the game 23-23. A couple minutes later, Cedar center Luke Armstrong scored inside, got fouled, and made the ensuing free throw to put the Reds up 26-23 with about 5:30 left in the second.

Sophomore big man Brock Felder got things going for the Mustangs again with an inside shot the next time down the floor. Within a couple minutes, Crimson had capped off an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer by Hudson Hawes that put the Mustangs up 32-26. Crimson stayed ahead the remainder of the quarter en route to a 31-21 halftime lead.

Crimson managed to stay ahead the first half of the third quarter, but Cedar slowly chipped away at the deficit, eventually retaking the lead 50-49 on a shot by Grant at the 4:00 mark.

Crimson guard Trei Rockhill answered immediately with a driving shot, followed by a free throw for a three-point play to put the Mustangs back on top. Crimson led by as many as seven as the third quarter wound down, but Grant nailed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to bring Cedar back within four points, 62-58.

Cedar at Crimson Cliffs, Washington City, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

At the 5:29 mark of the fourth quarter, Cedar once again tied the game as Grant swished a pair of free throws to make it 64-64.

The next few possessions for both teams proved fruitless, as each team missed multiple shots and committed turnovers.

Finally, at the 4:00 mark, Hawes drove inside and got fouled as the shot went in. He converted the free throw to put Crimson ahead for good, 67-64.

Crimson did have to withstand one last furious rally by Cedar in the final minute. Despite being down 75-68 with 1:12 left, Cedar scored five straight points to narrow the gap to two points with 31 seconds left.

Hawes ended up swishing two free throws to put Crimson back up by four with 28 seconds left, effectively icing the game. Cedar missed a couple of desperation shots at the end, while Hawes, who scored 10 of his game-high 24 points during the fourth quarter, added one more free throw to cap off the scoring.

Crimson Cliffs head coach Kasey Winters called the game a “great team win.”

“Two really good teams battled it out tonight,” he said, adding, “I thought our guys did a great job defending and rebounding when it mattered most.”

In addition to Hawes’ 24-point effort, the Mustangs got solid production from guards Rockhill and Sampson, who finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Off the bench, Phoenix McWillis contributed nine points, while Travis Mathews added six.

The Mustangs made 9-of-22 3-pointers on the night (41%) and were also 20-of-39 from 2-point range (51%).

Cedar at Crimson Cliffs, Washington City, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Felder finished with eight points, but it was the sophomore’s defense and rebounding that drew his coach’s praise. “Brock rebounded and protected the paint the best he has all season long,” Winters said.

Cedar head coach Mark Esplin said his team “spent a lot of energy getting the gap closed.”

“We’ve got to get better at the end of games, starting with me,” he added.

The Reds were without potent scorers Treyton Tebbs and Zab Santana for the second straight game.

“We had a short bench, but this year, we play with what we have,” Esplin added.

Grant led Cedar with 20 points, while Savage added 17, Armstrong scored 16 and Aaron Munson made 12.

Both teams are now 4-2 in Region 9 play as the third week of action draws to a close. See full standings at bottom of story, along with each team’s current RPI ranking among the 21 teams in the 4A classification statewide.

Cedar next plays at Desert Hills on Wednesday, while Crimson Cliffs travels to face Snow Canyon.

— written by Jeff Richards

Dixie 70, Desert Hills 45

The Flyers defended the Hangar in emphatic fashion against Region 9’s last undefeated team, with Dixie making a statement after its disappointing loss to Snow Canyon earlier in the week.

Ethan Bennett goes up for a shot for Dixie basketball against Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Dixie backed up its often-made claim of having the best defense in the state, holding a Desert Hills team that posted the highest scoring game in recent Region 9 history under the half-century mark.

“That’s what we do,” Dixie senior Isaac Finlinson said.

Rebounding statistics were not immediately available but Dixie controlled the tempo and kept Desert Hills from establishing in the frontcourt and taking too many high-percentage shots.

The Flyers sent the Thunder to the free-throw line only seven times in the game, where they have proven to be lethal all season. They entered the game shooting 73% on FTs and averaged 19.8 attempts a game entering Friday.

Dixie held Desert Hills’ Mason Landdeck to 11 points, almost half of his usual average (Landdeck had been making 21.3 points per game through the team’s 13-game winning streak to begin the season). The Thunder converted only four 3-point attempts, also half their per-game average. The Flyers had three kills, stopping three consecutive Desert Hills possessions on three different occasions.

Carson Forsey carries the ball across midcourt for Dixie basketball against Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

“Just getting a hand up, trying not to let them shoot as many 3’s as they usually do, just boxing out and getting rebounds so they only have one chance to score,” Dixie senior Ethan Bennett said of the defensive effort.

The teams played close early to a 14-13 Flyers lead at the end of the first quarter. Landdeck hit a pair from the arc and the Thunder closed a five-point deficit to one as the period drew to a close.

The second quarter, however, was a different story. Desert Hills got out to a 17-16 lead less than 40 seconds in before Dixie took the next 11 points and went on a 13-2 run into halftime.

As the buzzer neared, Landdeck went up for a 3-pointer, which missed, and he backed into the Dixie bench. After colliding with a Dixie assistant coach, he went down and a brief altercation ensued as tensions ran high as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

Desert Hills basketball at Dixie, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Starting the second half down 33-19, Desert Hills did not get within single digits of the Flyers’ score the rest of the way. The score sat at 47-31 at the end of the third quarter and the spread broke 20 points on a Jeff Cox layup with 3:40 to play, making it 57-36.

It was an emphatic win and a needed one for a Dixie team that struggled in its first game on Wednesday, falling to Snow Canyon 55-40 at home. 

“They wanted it bad,” Dixie head coach Tyler Roberts said. “It means a lot just because of the Wednesday game. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It’s just a huge game because if we come out and lose by 30-40 (tonight), then we’re looking in the mirror going, ‘What’s going on here?’… Thankful for all my coaches and all the time and effort they put in.”

Isaac Finlinson goes up for a shot for Dixie basketball against Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Offensively, Roberts highlighted the willingness to share the ball and make the extra pass. Four players broke into double digits, led by Bennett’s 16. Junior Bronson Barben was one point away from joining them. Finlinson had 13, senior Carson Forsey had 12 and senior Jeff Cox had 10. Finlinson posted a triple-double with 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Roberts said it may have been the team’s highest assist game of the season, but that statistic was not immediately available. He also highlighted his depth play tonight, calling Forsey and Barben his “X-factors.”

“Carson was the X-factor,” Roberts said. “He played his best game of the year and showed how good he is defensively but can also score if needed.”

Desert Hills drops to 13-1 overall and 5-1 in Region 9.  The Thunder host Cedar on Wednesday.

Dixie gets back in the win column, moving to 11-3 and also 5-1 in Region 9 play. The Flyers travel to Pine View next.

Snow Canyon 56, Canyon View 36

The Warriors doubled up the Falcons in the first quarter and pulled away at home.

Lyman Simmons shoots for Snow Canyon basketball against Canyon View, St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News / Cedar City News

Snow Canyon scored 18 points in the first quarter to Canyon View’s 9 and never trailed in the contest. It held the visitors to fewer than 10 points in each of the first three quarters. With a 37-26 score entering the fourth quarter, both teams posted their highest-scoring stanzas.

Warriors head coach Doug Meacham still saw room for improvement even as his team held a comfortable lead for the majority of the game.

“We played too fast in the first half,” Meacham said. “Because we were rushing so fast we had 16 turnovers, that’s just too many.”

Senior Lincoln Polatis led Snow Canyon with 14 points. Close behind was sophomore Lyman Simmons with 13. Senior Blake Munson scored 10. Simmons also added eight rebounds, as did senior Brenton Childs.

For Canyon View, Brendan Greenhalgh led the way with 11 points.

The Falcons drop to 1-13 overall and 0-6 in league play. They travel to Hurricane next.

Snow Canyon improves to 11-3 and 4-2 in Region 9. It hosts Crimson Cliffs on Wednesday.

Pine View 40, Hurricane 38

The Panthers completed a fourth-quarter comeback to earn the road win over Hurricane.

Down 33-25 entering the fourth quarter, six different players scored for Pine View as it simultaneously limited Hurricane to just two field goals over the final eight minutes. Four of the scorers were seniors.

“We struggled for a lot of the game but credit to our seniors,” Pine View head coach Ryan Eves said. “We will take it.”

No Panther reached double digits in scoring. Senior Justin Hall got the closest with nine, leading the team with four points during the fourth quarter.

Jack Reeve led Hurricane with eight points.

The Panthers snap a two-game skid, improving to 3-9 overall and 2-4 in Region 9. They host Dixie next.

Hurricane falls to 1-13 and 0-6 in league. The Tigers have lost 11 in a row and host Canyon View on Wednesday, when both teams will be looking for their first region win.

Wednesday’s game schedule (Jan. 27)

  • Cedar at Desert Hills
  • Dixie at Pine View
  • Crimson Cliffs at Snow Canyon
  • Canyon View at Hurricane

Region 9 boys basketball standings (as of Jan. 23)

  1. Desert Hills 5-1 (13-1) RPI: 1st
  2. Dixie 5-1 (11-3) RPI: 3rd
  3. Crimson Cliffs 4-2 (12-2) RPI: 2nd
  4. Snow Canyon 4-2 (11-3) RPI: 6th
  5. Cedar 4-2 (9-4) RPI: 8th
  6. Pine View 2-4 (3-9) RPI: 16th
  7. Hurricane 0-6 (1-13) RPI: 17th
  8. Canyon View 0-6 (1-13) RPI: 18th

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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