4A girls basketball playoffs: Pine View eliminates Cedar on anniversary of finals duel

RICHFIELD — The Pine View Panthers proved their positioning as the No. 1 seed in the 4A state tournament bracket with a dominant victory over the defending champion Cedar Reds, 56-24, in the quarterfinals at the Sevier Valley Center.

No. 1 Pine View basketball vs. No. 8 Cedar, 4A state basketball playoffs, Sevier Valley Center, Richfield, Utah, March 1, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Pine View was in control early and throughout the entire game and the team’s key players did their jobs in getting there. They also benefitted from some Cedar misfortune early, as the Reds failed to score in the first quarter. Just a couple of minutes into the second quarter, Pine View’s lead reached double digits and would not drop for the duration of the game.

For Panthers head coach, Ben Luce, it was a relief to take care of business with little drama in the first round of on-location tournament play.

“That quarterfinal, that first game is always a good one to get underway and over with,” Luce said, citing a hot start to the game as a key achievement going forward. “It’s one crucial thing. It’s the difference, calming your nerves in the first quarter vs. waiting until the third quarter to find some rhythm. If you can do that, especially in the first game of a state tournament, then you’re in it.”

The Panthers stormed out to a quick 9-0 lead early in the first quarter and that score held until the buzzer. Alex Olson started the scoring with a 3-pointer before Averi Papa scored three straight.

Cedar had its chances to score in the first frame but could not land any shots. Pine View didn’t set a high standard in executing either late in the quarter, as Luce described his team’s play as “sloppy” in the first half. However, he could not readily remember the last time his team had shut another out over a full quarter.

No. 1 Pine View basketball vs. No. 8 Cedar, 4A state basketball playoffs, Sevier Valley Center, Richfield, Utah, March 1, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

It wouldn’t be until around the 7:00 mark of the second quarter that Braylee Peterson would hit from the right lane on a layup to get Cedar on the board.

Peterson would land a pair of free throws later and another layup at the second-quarter buzzer for six first-half points. Grace Morales hit a jumper to account for Cedar’s only other points, and her shot was immediately nullified by back-to-back treys by Olson.

Olson and Papa both entered halftime with nine points, and the Panthers held a 25-8 lead.

Papa got five points within the first minute of the second half on two shots down low and converted the and-one after drawing a foul. She scored nine in the quarter total. Olson added another five points and Pine View took a 39-15 lead into the last eight minutes.

Aly Schmitt dominated garbage time for Pine View, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter. Morales added two more baskets for Cedar to account for the team’s four points in the last frame.

Papa finished the game with 20 points. Olson had 14. Peterson led Cedar with six points.

A year ago to the day, Cedar topped Pine View in the 2020 championship match 61-44. For Luce and the Panthers, however, there is no real sense of redemption. It’s a new Cedar team this year, notedly one that didn’t sweep through Region 9 play without a loss.

“It’s a different team, it’s a different dynamic,” Luce said. “Every year has its different goals and stuff. It’s just always nice to win, regardless of who you’re playing.”

The Panthers will take on No. 5 Logan in the semifinal on Tuesday. The Grizzlies are 16-5 overall and won Region 11 with a 9-1 league record. The bracket for the girls tournament can be found here

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

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