ST. GEORGE – The Pine View Panthers came into the Hangar to avenge their earlier one-point loss at home to the Dixie Flyers. They reciprocated in kind, coming away with a one-point victory, 67-66, grabbing sole possession of second place in Region 9.
The hero of the day was Garrett Bowker, who hit a step-back jumper from right on the 3-point line that rattled home for the go-ahead points with 0.8 seconds remaining.
“We had our best defender on him,” said Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff. “He was able to separate with the step back and still hit the shot with our guy’s hand in his face. It is hard to lose, but I can’t fault the effort our boys gave tonight.”
The Pine View fans thought the game was over and stormed the court. After the court was cleared, Dixie’s full-court play was stymied when RJ Wilgar’s long pass hit the rafters, giving the ball back to the Panthers. Pine View got the ball in and ran out the last second for the win.
“Their kids are tough, blue collar kids,” said Larson. “Wilgar, (Tyler) Bennett, (Izaic) Blazzard, all of them — tough as nails. I’d love to coach them. It was a good test for us.”
Pine View led by six with 2:20 left in the game. But two RJ Wilgar free throws and a Richard Guymon three-point play cut the lead to one, 60-59, with 1:37 on the clock.
Pine View point guard Chaz Peterson was fouled while dribbling through Dixie’s full-court press and calmly hit two free throws to push the lead back to three. Tyler Bennett then drove the ball right at Panthers center Kody Wilstead, hitting the bucket and drawing the foul, a play that was reminiscent of one late in the first game these two teams played. His free throw tied the game at 62-62 with 1:07 showing on the clock.
Peterson was fouled again with just over a minute showing. This time he could not connect on the front end of a one-and-one. Bennett again drove the lane and drew the foul. His two free throws gave Dixie a 64-62 lead. After a timeout, Pine View got a 3-point shot from Jed Newby with 24 seconds left to go up 65-64.
“They were not guarding me out there,” said Newby. “Earlier in the possession, I had an opportunity and my teammates were telling me to shoot, but I passed it up. Then I got it back and again no one was around me. I didn’t hesitate this time.”
Larsen further expounded, “We wanted to get the ball to Bowker but it broke down. But I never discourage my players from shooting good shots. That was a good shot for Newby.”
Dixie got the ball once again into Bennett’s hands. And once again, the Dixie junior drew a foul. Bennett continued perfection from the charity stripe, hitting his sixth and seventh free throws of the night to put Dixie up 66-65 with 12 seconds remaining.
After Pine View got it to the front court, a timeout was called with 7.5 seconds left. The ball came into Newby just above the elbow. Bowker curled around, took the handoff, three lefty dribbles and stepped back and drilled the long two-point shot with 0.8 seconds remaining.
The deuce made it a career-high 22 points for Bowker, who hit six 3-pointers in the game and now has 45 on the season. As a team, Pine View had 10 treys in the game. Dixie had eight.
The scoring started with a pull-up jumper by Wilgar. Dixie would then suffer through several missed shots. Pine View’s Kody Wilstead blocked three shots in the first quarter and altered many others. Pine View was jump-started by Blake Ence, who scored all 10 of his points in the first quarter.
“Blake got us going early,” said Larsen. “Dixie was double-teaming the post after every entry. Blake was able to get some good looks.”
With two seconds left in the first quarter, Wilgar drove the lane and drew a shooting foul. After hitting the first shot, Wilgar’s second free throw came off hard and was deflected to Isaic Blazzard at the top of the key. His 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled the Flyers to 17-12.
“That play took a lot out of us,” said Larsen. “It deflated our momentum.”
The four-point possession was the beginning of a Dixie 20-2 run.
Dixie’s sophomore post, Guymon, had the first two baskets of the second quarter, catching his man, Wilstead, out of position both times. Guymon had a put-back on a Wilgar missed layup that Wilstead had altered. On the next possession, Wilstead gambled for the steal on the post entry pass, leaving Guymon an easy post move. Guymon then followed up with a blocked shot from behind on Wilstead. That triggered a layup at the other end for Jake Hawes. Hawes and Bennett scored the next 12 points for Dixie.
During the run, Pine View could only muster two Wilstead free throws. With three minutes to play in the first half, Dixie had a 28-19 lead. Enter Bowker. He canned two 3-pointers just before halftime. Carter Milne closed out the half with another Panther 3-pointer to cut Dixie’s lead to 31-28.
“When I reentered the game in the second quarter, I knew we had to make a run,” said Bowker. “They actually played pretty good defense, but I was still able to hit my shots.”
Coming out of halftime, the Panthers made a concerted effort to reestablish Wilstead in the post.
“In the first half, they took away Wilstead’s effectiveness with the double-teams,” said Larsen. “At halftime we made some adjustments on a few of our post plays where they would have difficulty with the double-team.”
Wilstead scored the first four points for the Panthers, but the quarter would once again belong to Bowker as he hit all three of his 3-pointers. By the end of the third, the Panthers turned their three-point deficit into a three-point lead, 46-43.
For Dixie, it was Bennett and Wilgar doing most of the damage. The Panthers used Newby to guard the Flyers leading scorer, Hawes.
“I did my best,” said a smiling Newby. “Even when I was in his face, he would still rise up and hit the shot. I think that I limited the shots he took though.” Hawes scored 11 first-half points, but could not find the basket in the second half.
Two quick baskets from Peterson and Bowker extended the Panther lead to 51-43 with 6:15 left. Dixie tried to chip away, but every basket they scored Pine View had an answer — Wilstead. The Panther post took over in the fourth, scoring the next eight points for Pine View. His reverse with 2:20 remaining gave the Panthers a 60-54 advantage and set up the game’s frenetic finish.
Wilstead had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots in the game. Ence chipped in 10 points. Peterson finished with just four points, but had seven assists.
For Dixie, Bennett had 21 to lead his team. Wilgar scored 15 and Hawes had 11. Guymon scored nine, including hitting all three of his free throws.
Pine View improves to 16-2 overall, 7-2 in region. The Panthers are riding a five-game winning streak and will get a chance to avenge their only other loss this year hosting Desert Hills on Wednesday night.
With the loss, Dixie falls to 14-5, 6-3 in region play. The Flyers are off Wednesday and will host Cedar next Friday night.
Stats: PV 67, Dixie 66
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