ST. GEORGE – It was fitting Friday night that the game between Region 9’s two unbeaten teams came down to a last-second shot. Dixie and Desert Hills have been nearly mirror images of each other this season. It took a last-second putback by Payton Wilgar to make a distinction between the two.
Meanwhile, Hurricane staked an early claim on what it hopes will be a postseason appearance with a convincing win at home against Cedar. And Canyon View continues its reclamation project with a dominant win in its gymnasium against Pine View. Here’s how it all went down:
Dixie 54, Desert Hills 52
Payton Wilgar is not your 20 points a game kind of guy. In fact, the Dixie senior, who averages just a shade under six points a game, has made his reputation as a defensive and rebounding specialist. It’s the rebounding part that made the whole end-of-game scenario play out like it did.
“I noticed Tanner (Cuff) was pulling up with some time left and so I tried to get myself in a position for the rebound,” Wilgar said.
Cuff did toss up a running shot in the right side of the lane with under five seconds to go. Wilgar, on the left side, saw the shot roll off his direction and snagged the rebound. But his putback try was short.
“I just crashed the boards and it came right to me,” Wilgar said. “I missed the first one and I thought I blew it. But it was just a natural reaction to grab it and put it back in, and luckily there was still some time left.”
Replays showed the second putback try by Wilgar left his hands with 0.4 seconds on the clock. By the time it rippled the net, the clock read 0:00 and the Flyers had come away with the narrow win.
“I didn’t see him miss the first one because I was on the ground,” Tanner Cuff said. “But I saw the second one go in and I was like ‘Does it count?’ But it counted and everyone rushed the floor. It was great. I am so grateful Payton was there to rebound the miss.”
The atmosphere was electric, with not an empty seat in the gym. Both student sections were jam-packed and they took turns chanting at each other from their respective baseline seats. And the game lived up to the hype.
Led by Cuff and Carson Bottema, the Flyers ruled the first half. Dixie was up by nine after a trey by Bottema and a reverse layup by the senior with under a minute to play in the half. Tyler Marz hit two free throws with one second to go in the half to make it 26-19 at intermission.
But the Thunder, the defending region champs, rallied immediately after the break. With 5:05 to go in the third, it was a 28-26 game after a scooping layup by Tyler Webber for D-Hills.
The Thunder got their first lead since the opening basket of the game early in the fourth quarter. Tyler Webber hit a trey and Tucker Peterson scored inside to make it 38-36 with 6:18 left in the game.
Cuff scored six quick points on a three-point play and a 3-pointer with under three minutes left to put Dixie ahead 50-46, but the Thunder tied it on consecutive steals and layups by Peterson and Trey Allred, the latter coming with 1:23 on the clock.
Wilgar hit two free throws with 1:18 to go to make it 52-50, and the Thunder tied it again with 49.5 seconds left when Peterson banked a straight-on jump shot.
Dixie then worked the weave on offense to chew up the final 49 seconds before Wilgar’s last-second heroics.
“We wanted to be able to take that last shot and we wanted to do it with only four or five seconds left,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “I wanted Tanner to take the last shot, and Payton was just ready to go get it. Luckily he went and got the second one – he stayed with it. I’m happy for him.”
Not lost on Coach Cuff or his team was the free throw shooting in the game. The Flyers made just 13 of 27 in an ugly win against Snow Canyon Wednesday. But on Friday, Dixie needed every one of its excellent 15 for 19 shots from the line (78.9 percent).
“I’m so happy for our team that we were able to finish out the week with shooting good free throws,” Coach Cuff said. “We needed them.”
Wilgar finished with 12 points and a team-record tying 13 rebounds (in the Coach Cuff era). He also made all six of his free throw attempts. Tanner Cuff had a game-high 19 points, a big answer to a quiet four points Wednesday against Snow Canyon.
“After Wednesday, I knew I had to come ready to play tonight,” Tanner Cuff said. “I focused more on attacking the basket tonight, and I got to the foul line more, too. I’m just glad we got this one. It was a good team win.”
Bottema finished with nine points for Dixie, but was held scoreless in the second half. The Flyers made just three 3-pointers in the game, two by Tanner Cuff.
Dixie improves to 13-3 overall and is in first all alone with a 5-0 Region 9 record.
Desert Hills, 11-4 and 4-1, got 15 points from Peterson and 11 from Ryan Marz. Marz also had six rebounds and two steals.
Dixie made 18 of 43 shots (41 percent) and owned a 28-17 rebounding advantage. Desert Hills was 20 for 41 from the floor (48 percent), but made just 2 for 13 from beyond the arc.
The Flyers are at Cedar next Wednesday, while the Thunder finish the first half of region play with a home game against Canyon View.
Hurricane 50, Cedar 42
A cold fourth quarter for the Tigers made this one look closer than it actually was. Hurricane led by as many as 19 early in the fourth quarter before a late flourish by the Redmen got them within eight at the final buzzer.
The real story was the defense played by the Tigers in the second and third quarters. Hurricane allowed just one basket in the eight minute-long second period, then gave up just eight points in the third to forge an insurmountable lead of 39-22 heading into the final period.
“The two biggest differences in the game were our defense and the fact that we have Jackson Last,” Hurricane coach Todd Langston said. “We forced a lot of turnovers and just disrupted their offense tonight. Adam Heyrend played great defense and got a lot of deflections. He really got into the passing lanes and came up with some steals. And Jackson continues to be an amazing player. He is fearless.”
Last had 27 points and seven rebounds and continues to be one of the top scorers in the state. The senior guard made three 3-pointers and is averaging 25.8 points per game.
Langston also praised the play of Russell Nield, who filled in for Reagan Marshall, who is playing through a painful torn labrum in his hip.
“Russell came up big for us,” Langston said. “He played a lot of minutes as an undersized post because Reagan was just too sore to be very effective tonight. Russell had 10 rebounds, which was huge, and he also scored seven points.”
Matthew Meyers also played extended minutes and chipped in eight points for the Tigers, who improved to 9-5 overall and 3-2 in region play.
Up 13-12 to start the second quarter, Hurricane got five quick points from Last on a layup and a 3-pointer. Cedar briefly cut it to 18-14 on a basket by Ryan Kite, but the Tigers would score the next seven points over the next five minutes to make it 25-14 at intermission.
Hurricane then started the third quarter on a 5-1 run to make it 30-15 after a deuce by Last and a 3-pointer by Meyers.
Marshall hit his only basket of the game to start the fourth quarter, but it significantly made it the biggest lead of the night at 41-22 and the Tigers cruised from there.
Hurricane made 16 of 39 shots in the game (41 percent) and outrebounded Cedar 32-26.
“Cedar goes to the glass hard after shots,” Langston said. “But we actually outrebounded them, so I was pretty proud of that. Cedar is young, but they’re scrappy. They’re going to be really good. Their coach (Russ Beck) is super knowledgeable and has a great understanding of the game.”
Cedar, 8-8 and 1-4, was led by senior Ethan Boettcher’s 18 points. Dallin Peterson added eight.
The Tigers play at Snow Canyon next Wednesday, while Cedar will host region-leader Dixie at Redmen Gymnasium.
Canyon View 52, Pine View 39
“One of the things I’m most proud of is our defense the last couple of games,” said Canyon View head coach Rob Potter. “We’ve seen a lot of different styles of play and we’ve adjusted to them. It’s coming along nicely. In five of the last six quarters of basketball, we’ve held our opponents to under 10 points.”
The Panthers had 14 in the second quarter and that helped them stay within a point at halftime at 22-21. But the Falcons outscored Pine View 15-9 in the third and 15-9 in the fourth to pull away with the win.
“At halftime, we had shot 3 of 15 on 3-pointers and 5 of 6 on 2-pointers,” Potter said. “I told the guys that we needed to stop settling for 3s and to get the ball inside. They did that in the third quarter. We showed more patience and we were also able to get a few transition baskets.”
Potter said Holmes’ big night came via some good help from his teammates.
“He was the recipient of some nice passes from his teammates,” Potter said. “I think he scored seven of his points in the first three minutes of the third quarter. He had a nice two-and-one and then made two other layups off of nice passes.”
The Falcons had nine steals in the game, and were also sharp at the free throw line. Canyon View made 17 of 21 charity shots for 81 percent.
The Falcons, now 7-9 overall and 2-3 in region play, have won two straight. Canyon View was picked among the favorites in Region 9 heading into the season with a senior-laden team.
“Being out of the region for two years, well, we knew it would be tough coming back,” Potter said. “Region 9 is a whole new level, and to be honest, we didn’t play at that level to start things off. We were horrible the first couple of games. But I think we understand now what it takes to play at that higher level. Until you get into Region 9 play, you don’t really understand what it takes.”
Canyon View plays the last game of the first half of the region schedule with a game at Desert Hills next Wednesday night.
Pine View, playing without the ill Tayler Tobler, got 15 points from Hunter Moore. The Panthers’ other leading scorer, Jack O’Donnell, was held to eight points. Pine View, 6-9 and 2-4, has a bye Wednesday and resumes region play next Friday with a home game against Snow Canyon.
Dixie 54, Desert Hills 52
Hurricane 50, Cedar 42
Canyon View 52, Pine View 39
Region 9 Standings
Dixie 5-0, 13-2
Desert Hills 4-1, 11-4
Hurricane 3-2, 9-5
Canyon View 2-3, 7-9
Pine View 2-4, 6-9
Cedar 1-4, 8-8
Snow Canyon 1-4, 5-10
Canyon View at Desert Hills
Dixie at Cedar
Hurricane at Snow Canyon
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