TWIR9: Taking an early glance at 3A basketball playoffs

COMMENTARY — Is it too early to talk basketball playoffs? We media types are always jumping the gun, but I just can’t help myself.

Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2014 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2014 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

On the boys side, two teams have separated themselves from the pack. Pine View (6-1) and Snow Canyon (5-1) are two games ahead of the field in the loss column. Although things get really interesting this Wednesday as those two teams play each other, which means one of them will have a second loss. If Pine View wins that game, which is at the Panthers’ Pit Gymnasium, PV will have a one-game lead with just four region games remaining. The Panthers lone region loss was at Snow Canyon back in December. However, if the Warriors win, they would have swept the season series from PV, which essentially equals a two-game lead because the season sweep would give Snow Canyon any tiebreaker vs. the Panthers. To say Wednesday’s game is a big one is an understatement. It is likely the region championship game.

Having said that, it should be noted that both Desert Hills and Cedar still hold hopes of a region title. Both teams are 4-3 in Region 9 action and both still have games against Pine View and Snow Canyon coming up. Here’s the problem: One of the two teams will have a fourth region loss after Wednesday night because they play each other at Cedar High School that evening.

For the Thunder, a win Wednesday would set them up with winnable games at home vs. Hurricane and Canyon View in their next two. Winning those three would make Desert Hills 7-3 with its final two games being at Pine View and at Snow Canyon. It’s a tough task, especially since the Thunder lost to both PV and SC at home, but at least it’s possible.

No one should count out the Cedar Redmen in the region championship race. CHS may be 4-3, but took both Pine View and Snow Canyon down to the wire at their places. Cedar’s only remaining road games are at Hurricane and at Dixie. In fact, if the Redmen can beat D-Hills Wednesday night and win at Hurricane next Wednesday, they’ll be 6-3 with back to back games against the two teams ahead of them in the standings, Pine View and Snow Canyon. But even if the Redmen win out, can a team with three losses be region champs?

For Dixie and Canyon View, both 2-5 in region play, the math is actually pretty simple. A losing record in region will guarantee a seat in the stands (and not on the court) during the playoffs. With five games left for the two teams, that means a record of 5-0 or 4-1 in the remaining games is the only way to get to the playoffs. Given the fact that they still have to play each other once, that means the two squads need to get hot and there’s no time to waste.

Same goes for the Hurricane Tigers, who nearly beat Cedar three weeks ago and did beat Dixie before the Christmas break. But at 1-6 in region, there is even less margin for error. The Tigers have to win out. However, it should be pointed out that Hurricane already has four more wins than a year ago and this young team has shown a competitive edge that was missing on last season’s 1-19 squad.

Boys Region 9 Standings

TEAM — Region — Overall
Pine View — 6-1 — 14-2
Snow Canyon — 5-1 — 10-5
Desert Hills — 4-3 — 9-7
Cedar — 4-3 — 9-7
Dixie — 2-5 — 9-7
Canyon View — 2-5 — 5-12
Hurricane — 1-6 — 5-12

This Week’s Games
WED JAN 29
Desert Hills at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Pine View, 7 p.m.
FRI JAN 31
Canyon View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Dixie, 7 p.m.

girls basketball

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On the girls side, I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that anything is going to stop the Desert Hills Lady Thunder from winning the Region 9 crown. It’s not just that the D-Hills is 7-0 in region and has a two-game lead on the field. It’s HOW the Lady Thunder are winning those games. It generally goes like this: The challenger hangs close for a quarter, maybe someone hits a couple of 3-pointers or Desert Hills takes a quarter or so to adjust to the lighting or rims in an unfamiliar gymnasium. When the second quarter rolls around, DH starts to build a bit of a lead, usually eight to 12 points by halftime. After a halftime adjustment or two and warm-ups for the second half, the blitz is on and the game becomes a runaway fast. By mid-fourth quarter, Haley Bodnar and Blair Bliss and Co. are cooling their jets on the bench as the younger players get some playing time in a 35-point blowout.

Need evidence? Last Thursday DH beat Cedar 62-27 with the halftime score being 25-15. Similar scenarios played out in last Tuesday’s game  vs. Canyon View and pretty much every region game this season. D-Hills is 16-1 and has a 10-game winning streak. Before I get caught too much in my own hype and mail off the state championship trophy to the Lady Thunder, it’s worth mentioning that Morgan is doing to Region 10 what Desert Hills is doing to Region 9. In fact, both teams’ lone loss was to 4A No. 1-ranked Timpview and have similar wins over Salem Hills and Cedar. The two teams seem destined to meet in the state championship game. And fortunately, they would be on opposites sides of the state tournament bracket if they both close out region play as champions. That could be one crazy championship game Mar. 1 at SUU’s Centrum Arena.

As for the rest of Region 9, it’s a real battle in two areas. First, the battle for second place (and a home playoff game in the first round) has come down to two teams and Snow Canyon and Hurricane are dead even with 5-2 records. Both teams still have to play Desert Hills and the Tigers and Warriors meet each other a week from tonight (Feb. 4) at Snow Canyon’s Jungle Gymnasium. SC won the first meeting in Hurricane with Grace Walton leading the way, but Walton is out indefinitely and the Warriors miss her presence. The Lady Tigers, meanwhile, have won three straight since that loss.

The other battle is for the fourth playoff spot with Canyon View holding the inside track with a 3-4 record. The Lady Falcons are home against Cedar tonight and a win would further solidify their chances. Dixie is starting to show signs of life. The Lady Flyers have won 2 of 3 after starting region 0-4. Dixie has road games tonight (D-Hills) and Thursday (Cedar), but closes the season with three straight home games.

Girls Region 9 Standings
TEAM — Region — Overall
Desert Hills — 7-0 — 16-1
Hurricane — 5-2 — 10-6
Snow Canyon — 5-2 — 9-6
Canyon View — 3-4 —  8-8
Cedar — 2-5 — 8-9
Dixie — 2-5 — 7-8
Pine View — 0-6 — 0-14

This Week’s Games
TUE JAN 28
Cedar at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
THU JAN 30
Dixie at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Pine View, 7 p.m.

~

This Week In Region 9 is written by Andy Griffin and provides a glance at prep sports in southern Utah. Click the email below for submissions and to provide updates from your favorite sports that we might have missed.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Mike January 29, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Correction, Cedar played at Hurricane. Hurricane comes to Cedar next Wednesday, the schedule had an error. So actually Cedar has 4 of their last 5 at home. Dixie is their only remaining road game.

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