ST. GEORGE – It was a cold night in the Thunderdome for the visiting Richfield Wildcats.
Desert Hills suffocated Richfield for the first 16 minutes of the game and cruised to a 54-28 victory Friday night in the Thunder’s final game before region play begins next week.
“I don’t care what the score is or what’s going on, I need you to play to your potential,” DH coach Wade Turley said. “Effort, that’s something you can control and I thought they showed what they’re capable of. It was nice to see. They responded well.”
Desert Hills allowed just six points in the first half while building an amazing 34-6 advantage. The smothering first-half came after the Thunder emerged from the locker room with pregame warm-ups that read “Locked In.”
“‘Locked In,’ is our philosophy and it’s just what we want to be when we step on the court,” Thunder guard Jacob Mathews said. “We’re locked in and there’s no more messing around. It’s go time from the moment we step onto the court until the moment we step off.”
D-Hills started the game well, allowing just two points in the first quarter and building a 13-2 advantage.
But Richfield got back-to-back baskets to open the second period from Jaron Stewart and Reggie Hinck to make it 13-6 with 5:30 to go in the half. The mini-run came with the Thunder starters on the bench. After a timeout, Turley put his starters back in and the rout was on.
Desert Hills scored the next 21 points – an amazing 21-0 run over 5:25 of game time that didn’t end until the start of the third quarter.
“I knew we went on a lull and that’s why I got the starters back in there real quick,” Turley said. “But I knew we went on a run. I just didn’t realize it was 21 in a row. But you keep a team to six points in a half, that’s pretty impressive.”
The huge run started with a three-point play by Cam Clayton that made it 16-6, then Clayton followed it 20 seconds later with a deep 3-pointer off a dish from Logan Hokanson to make it 19-6. Braxton Porter hit a layup and Mathews buried a trey and it was quickly getting out of hand at 24-6.
Another Richfield turnover led to a Mathews layup, followed by a Hokanson jumper from 17 feet and then a Hokanson trey from straight on. Tucker Peterson closed the half and the run with a trey from the baseline on another Hokanson dime with 45 seconds to go.
Richfield actually opened the third quarter on an 8-3 run to close within 37-14, but would get no closer.
Clayton led the Thunder with 15 points. Hokanson had 13 and also added four assists, two blocks and two steals. In one highlight-reel play, the 5-foot-10 Hokanson blocked a shot, got the rebound and dribbled through the Wildcats defense coast-to-coast, dishing at the last minute for an easy layup by Clayton.
“I like how we came out there tonight,” Mathews said. “There was not one kid on the team that didn’t play his hardest out there.”
Mathews finished with nine points and seven rebounds as the Thunder finish the preseason with a 10-3 record. D-Hills opens Region 9 play Wednesday with a home game vs. Cedar.
Richfield, 4-6, plays at Cedar Saturday at 5 p.m.
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