Happy Warriors pounce on Panthers early, fend off late charge

In the key play of the game, Pine View's Saraven Allen collides with Snow Canyon's Sammi Johnston and is called for an offensive foul. It was the fifth foul on the Panthers star, sending her to bench as Johnston made two free throws to put her team back the lead and trigger an 11-4 run to close out the Warriors' 52-46 win, Jan. 25, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — If you’re happy and you know it, then your game is sure to show it. If you’re happy and you know it … beat the Panthers.

The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors weren’t singing that old ditty as they took to their home floor against first-place Pine View Thursday, but it may have been stuck in their heads, thanks to coach Ryan Rarick.

Snow Canyon’s Tylei Jensen slices through the Pine View defense in the Warriors’ 52-46 win over the visiting Panthers, Jan. 25, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

“Our play has determined our attitude … we’re happy when we play well, we’re upset when we play poorly,” he said, after his team’s impressive 52-46 win. “But we made a concerted effort to be positive, come out with a lot of energy and let that fuel our play, not vice versa.

“That energy we started the game with fed itself.”

And ate up the Panthers.

Snow Canyon opened the game with a fast and furious 8-0 run fueled by Tylei Jensen.

Melenaite Kata got the scoring started, establishing solid inside position, getting a perfect entry pass and making a strong move to the rim. After the Panthers missed a shot at their end, Jensen fed Allie Parr for another inside bucket. Two Pine View turnovers led to Jensen’s runner in the lane and another nifty pass inside to Natalie Gunn who made the shot.

The scoring spurt took less than two minutes and prompted an early time out by Pine View coach Chris Brinagh. It didn’t help.

Near the end of the quarter, the Warriors’ lead would reach 11 after Gunn hit a jumper from the foul line to make the score 13-2.

The Panthers finally got their first field goal with just over a minute left in the quarter, which ended with Snow Canyon up 14-6.

Pine View’s Averi Papa goes up and over Snow Canyon defenders in the Panthers’ 52-46 loss to the Warriors, Jan. 25, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

The teams exchanged free throws through the first half of the second quarter until Jensen nailed a three-pointer at the 3:59 mark to put the Warriors up 20-11. She scored 12 points for the game.

Pine View’s first field goal of the quarter came courtesy of Dawn Mead, who drove the baseline, made the shot and was fouled. She hit the free throw to pull the Panthers to within 26-14.

Each team added a free throw to finish the half.

Leading off the third quarter, Jensen hit Parr for a bucket at the rim to give the Warriors their biggest lead of the game, 29-15.

The Panthers, however, began to grind their way back into it. Mead’s runner, two free throws by Saraven Allen and an offensive rebound that led to a basket by Bailey Hofheins sliced the lead to single digits.

The teams went back and forth through the rest of the quarter, as Snow Canyon pushed the lead back up to 12, until Pine View, behind its stars Allen and Claire Newby brought it back down to 4. Allen hit a layup, then Newby grabbed an offensive rebound and found Allen open at the top of the key for a three-pointer. Newby added an old-fashioned three-point play when she hit a free throw after being fouled while making a shot in the lane.

The third quarter ended with Snow Canyon up 37-31.

Snow Canyon’s Sammi Johnston looks for her shot in the lane against Pine View defenders in the Warriors’ 52-46 win over the Panthers, Jan. 25, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

By then, the crowd, which included a sizable contingent of Panthers fans, was being whipped into a frenzy by the intensity of the two teams as the game approached the final frame. “It felt like a playoff game,” Rarick said.

The Panthers gradually reeled in the Warriors throughout the first part of the fourth quarter. Averi Papa hit a five-footer from the baseline, then put back an offensive rebound, to cut the lead to 38-35. When Snow Canyon turned the ball over on a 10-second violation, the Pine View faithful erupted.

Newby then rebounded her own miss and was fouled, hitting both free throws to close the gap to one point. Maycee Hayes followed with a steal, was fouled and hit one of two to tie the game with about 5 minutes left. After a Snow Canyon turnover, Hofheins drove the lane for a bucket that gave Pine View the lead, 40-38.

After the Panthers’ press forced another turnover, they had the ball, the lead and the momentum with 3:22 left.

Snow Canyon was looking at a familiar script. Rarick said his team had not been good at holding off opponents after surrendering big leads.

But Warriors flipped the script. Hallie Remund drilled a clutch three-pointer to take back the lead and ignite the home crowd. But the Panthers, who last week won a game in which they trailed by 5 with 15 seconds to go, pushed back.

Allen scored off an inbounds pass to put Pine View in front, setting up the key play of the night.

Snow Canyon missed its next shot, and Allen grabbed the loose ball and headed up court. Known for her physical play on offense, she went straight at two Warriors’ defenders. One crashed to the floor and Allen was called for the offensive foul. It was her fifth foul of the game, so instead of stepping to the free throw line she was headed to the bench.

Pine View’s Claire Newby elevates for a shot against Snow Canyon in the Panthers’ 52-46 loss to the Warriors, Jan. 25, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

Sammi Johnston hit both free throws, giving her team a lead it would not relinquish, as the Warriors closed the game with an 11-4 run.

“This was huge for us. It’s the first time all year we’ve answered a team,” Rarick said. “Earlier this season, we would have fallen apart, but we showed maturity and growth as a team tonight. It’s a huge turning point for us.”

The coach called it a “great team win,” mentioning a few of his players who contributed to it. In addition to Jensen’s 12 points, Kata added 10 and Parr, who played through illness, scored 8 and rebounded well. Although Alivia Hinton fouled out, “she gave us great minutes when she was in there.” He also said Johnston played tough defense and rebounded.

The win boosts Snow Canyon’s record to 4-3 in Region 9 and 8-9 overall, while Pine View dropped to 5-2 and 10-3.

Rarick didn’t spend too much time basking in the victory, though. “It’s great to have the win, but I’m already thinking about Tuesday (which is at Desert Hills High School). We’ve won all our games at home and lost all our games on the road (in Region 9 play).”

Pine View hosts Dixie, also on Tuesday.

In other Region 9 action Thursday, Hurricane and Cedar both won.

Region 9 Standings
Cedar  5-2, 12-4
Pine View  5-2, 10-3
Hurricane  4-3, 9-8
Snow Canyon 4-3, 8-9
Desert Hills  3-4, 3-12
Dixie 2-4, 8-10
Canyon View  1-6, 4-13

Email: mrinker@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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