Region 9 girls basketball: Snow Canyon celebrates a championship; Cedar, Hurricane win on last day

Chaylee Andrews of Snow Canyon goes up for a layup against Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Feb. 15, 2024 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Snow Canyon celebrated senior night in style Thursday in the Jungle, blowing out their crosstown rival Desert Hills to finish the regular season unbeaten in region play.

Snow Canyon’s Macie Hoskins dribbles upcourt Wednesday during a Region 9 girls basketball game vs. Desert Hills in St. George, Utah, Feb. 15, 2024 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

It was the Warriors’ 28th consecutive victory in region contests and marked the second year in a row that Snow Canyon swept the region slate in the regular season.

Snow Canyon finished with an overall record of 21-1 to go with its perfect 12-0 Region 9 mark. The Warriors’ only loss this year was a four-point overtime setback against Richfield on Nov. 30, their second game of the year.

Also on Thursday night, Cedar closed out a two-point win at home against Dixie while Hurricane also won at home, a six-point victory versus Pine View.

Now, all seven Region 9 teams wait to see what their seedings will be in the upcoming 4A girls state tournament.

Brackets are set using the ratings percentage index (RPI) and will be announced Saturday morning by the Utah High School Athletic Association.

St. George News and The Fan Sports Network will have full coverage and analysis of the playoff brackets as soon as they come out.

Snow Canyon 76, Desert Hills 49

The Snow Canyon Warriors won the Region 9 girls basketball trophy unbeaten for the second year, St. George, Utah, Feb. 15, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The Warriors honored seniors Fetuao Tapasa and Kyza Andrews before the game and the duo started along with Snow Canyon’s three junior musketeers Olivia Hamlin, Joey Jensen and Kelly Howard.

Snow Canyon sizzled from the start, canning 3-pointers, forcing steals and scoring in transition to post a 25-12 first quarter.

They upped their lead to 43-22 at halftime and Desert Hills was unable to get back into the contest.

Hamlin added to her Utah-leading point total with 30 more. She also posted six steals and four assists, flashing some nifty behind-the-back passes along the way.

“It’s been so fun playing with our seniors,” Hamlin said. “They’re really hard-working and we love playing with them. They’re really a big part of this team.”

Howard scored 19 and Jensen chipped in with 18 to back up Hamlin’s big night. Andrews sank a 3-pointer and Tapasa scored a bucket in their last Region 9 game.

“We wanted to win for the seniors, and that’s what we did,” Hamlin said. “Now we get to cut down the net for region.”

The Warriors were all smiles and celebration but they know there are more goals out there to achieve.

“Heck yeah. There’s definitely a lot more work to go,” Hamlin said. “Right now we’re going to celebrate this and then focus on state next week.”

As for the Thunder, Ashtin Hansen led the way with 17 points including three 3-pointers against Snow Canyon. Hannah Heaton sank two 3’s and contributed 13 points for Desert Hills.

Hurricane 49, Pine View 43

The Tigers jumped out to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter and led 28-11 at halftime.

Pine View responded with a gutsy second half, cutting the third quarter Hurricane lead to 40-25.

And then the Tigers had to withstand a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Panthers, who won the session 18-9. But it would not be enough.

Three Tigers scored in double digits, with Whitney Esplin leading the way with three 3-pointers and 18 points. Addison Crandall scored 12 and Ana Larsen sank a trey and contributed 11 points for the winners.

Reese Gustin answered for Pine View with a game-high 18 points. Casey Morley scored eight and Kaylee Rowley scored seven points including two 3-pointers in the setback.

Cedar 39, Dixie 37

At Cedar, the Reds fought off a determined second-half comeback by Dixie to edge past the Flyers.

After trailing for most of the game, Dixie forced a Cedar turnover in the backcourt with 12.5 seconds remaining and Cedar holding a slim 39-37 lead. On the ensuing inbounds play, however, Cedar’s Kelsi Orton stole the ball and passed it to teammate Tylee Nielson, who was fouled with 9.4 seconds to go.

However, Nielson missed both free throws, which was Cedar’s only appearance at the foul line all night. Dixie rebounded the second miss and quickly got the ball to Brinlee Bennett for a 3-point try that was close but bounced off the rim as time expired.

Leading the way for Cedar was junior Annalyse Shimada, who scored 17 points, including all seven of the Reds’ points during the third quarter. It was during that period that Dixie cut a 22-11 halftime deficit to four points, 29-25.

Cedar’s Annalyse Shimada takes a shot against Dixie, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 15, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The Flyers stayed close throughout the fourth but were not able to tie the score nor take the lead. Dixie was led by Hali Smith’s 14 points, while fellow senior Kealah Faumuina added 12.

Also scoring in double figures for Cedar were center Kiara Hansen and guard Mya Bishoff, who made 10 points apiece.

Dixie was perfect from the free throw line, converting 16-of-16 attempts during the game. Meanwhile, Cedar was 0-2 from the line, almost going the full 32 minutes without even an attempt.

Cedar played its first contest without leading scorer Gabby Gomez, who is out for the remainder of the season due to an accidental neck injury sustained at school on Tuesday. Although the sophomore point guard’s prognosis is reportedly good, she won’t be back in action anytime soon, school officials confirmed.

“Obviously, we have 17 points (per game) that we have to make up for,” said Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen, who noted that the game was a good test to see how they could play without Gomez in the lineup.

Bishoff, a reserve guard, scored all 10 of her points in the first half and Hansen added six, helping the Reds to a double-digit halftime lead.

Dixie’s Hali Smith makes a free throw late in the game vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 15, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Shimada then shouldered the Reds’ scoring load throughout the third and much of the fourth, totaling 13 second-half points before fouling out with one minute left. Hansen added a couple of clutch buckets in the fourth to help keep the Flyers at bay.

Nielsen added that he was pleased with the Reds’ defensive efforts throughout the game, holding Faumuina, Dixie’s top scorer, to a single field goal and 12 total points.

“She’s just too good of a player to hold down,” Nielsen said of Faumuina. “But you know what? To hold her to 12 points, where she averages 19 and she had 31 on Tuesday, 12 points is pretty good.”

Nielsen said he anticipates that the Reds will receive the No. 3 seed in the upcoming 4A state playoffs, which start next week.

“We understand where we’re at, and the things we have to work on,” he said, referring to preparing for the postseason without Gomez in the lineup. “We have a whole week, and we’ve already identified what that is, and now we can work on it. So that’s good.”

– written by Jeff Richards

Region 9 girls basketball final standings (overall, region):

  1. Snow Canyon (21-1, 12-0)
  2. Cedar (17-5, 9-3)
  3. Hurricane (13-9, 6-6)
  4. Dixie (11-12, 6-6)
  5. Desert Hills (8-12, 5-7)
  6. Crimson Cliffs (6-16, 2-10)
  7. Pine View (4-19, 2-10)

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