Cedar, Hurricane lead the charge into Friday’s 4A first round

Hurricane's Jayden Langford moves past Cedar's Dream Weaver in this file photo taken during Hurricane's last-second 43-41 win at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Region 9’s top four girls basketball teams will open the state 4A playoffs Friday night, as Cedar, Hurricane, Desert Hills and Pine View prepare to face teams from Region 12 in first-round action.

All first-round 4A games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Friday at the home courts of the higher-seeded schools. A total of 16 4A teams will play Friday evening, with the top four schools in Regions 10 and 11 also facing each other in similar fashion.

The winners of Friday night’s first-round games will advance to the state tournament March 1-3 at Utah Valley University in Orem. Click here to see the full 4A bracket.

Here’s a look at the four first-round playoff games featuring Region 9 teams:

Cedar

Cedar High’s Japrix Weaver is guarded by Madi Clark of Desert Hills during Cedar’s 51-47 win over Desert Hills at Desert Hills High School, St. George, Utah, Dec. 19, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The Cedar Lady Reds, who won the Region 9 title with a 10-2 record in region play, 17-4 overall, will host Region 12’s No. 4 seed, the Bear River Bears (3-7, 7-14) Friday night. The Lady Bears defeated Sky View 60-46 in a play-in game Tuesday to earn a trip to Cedar City.

“Bear River is a very aggressive, physical team,” said Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen. “They are led by their point guard, Rachel Fronk, and shoot a lot of 3-point shots.”

Cedar averaged a region-best 51.6 points per game during the regular season, while holding its opponents to 37.6 points per game, also tops in Region 9.

In Northern Utah’s Region 12, Bear River scored an average of 48 points per game while giving up an average of 50.6 points on defense.

“Defensively, they will press all game,” Nielsen said. “They anticipate passing lanes and score a lot off their defensive pressure.”

Nielsen said Cedar plans to counteract Bear River’s expected press by applying its own defensive pressure. “We have to be solid on defense,” he said.

The Lady Reds, whose only two regular season losses came during the same week in mid-January, have won seven straight since.

For Cedar, sophomore guard Japrix Weaver led the region in scoring with 13.2 points per game, while also averaging a team-high 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Senior forwards Dream Weaver and Carley Davis also each average more than eight points per game.

Hurricane

Region 9’s No. 2 seed, the Hurricane Lady Tigers, will host the Green Canyon Lady Wolves of North Logan Friday night. Green Canyon (6-4, 13-7) is the No. 3 seed from Region 12.

Hurricane senior guard Jayden Langford (11) shoots inside against Payson. The Lady Tigers defeated Payson 55-40 in high school girls basketball action, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 16, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Hurricane started off its regular season with three straight losses in Region 9 play, but the Lady Tigers are 8-1 since, including a seven-game winning streak that was snapped by region champion Cedar in a close 38-35 contest at Hurricane Feb. 13.

Hurricane head coach Franci Homer said she expects a competitive matchup against Green Canyon, which now is in its second year of existence.

“We are expecting a tough game,” Homer said. “They shoot a lot of 3s and get a lot of points in transition. They are athletic and rebound well.

“The keys to our victory will be our defense, rebounding, and getting some transition points of our own.”

The Lady Tigers are led by senior guard Jayden Langford, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Fellow guard Madi Hirschi, a junior, added 8.3 points and two steals per game. Other top scorers include senior forward Alexa Christensen and senior guard Kylee Stevens, who each averaged around 6.7 points per game.

Desert Hills

Desert Hills (7-5, 7-13), Region 9’s third seed, will travel to Cache County’s Ridgeline High in Millville to face the RiverHawks, the No. 2 seed in Region 12. Ridgeline finished 8-2 in region play, 14-7 overall.

Desert Hills’ Katelyn Philips (25), Desert Hills vs. Box Elder, Girls Basketball, St. George, UT, Nov. 30, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After struggling through the preseason and losing their first 10 games, the Lady Thunder had a remarkable turnaround, going 7-3 over their last 10 contests.

The Lady Thunder don’t have any scorers averaging in double figures, as junior guard Katelyn Philips leads the team with 6.8 points per game. However, Desert Hills does have plenty of offensive options, as six other players are each averaging between 3.6 and 4.7 points per contest.

Desert Hills head coach Ron Denos said he believes Ridgeline will be a tough challenge, but his team will focus on taking care of the ball and rebounding.

“They attack the offensive boards as well as anybody we have played,” Denos said of Ridgeline. “They also are very active on defense by putting pressure on the ball.

“We need to be focused and have energy.”

Pine View

Region 9’s fourth-seeded Pine View (7-5, 12-6) will face Logan (10-0, 17-4), Region 12’s top seed, Friday night at Logan.

“We have a tall task ahead of us, trying to knock off a No. 1 seed,” Pine View head coach Chris Brinagh said. “Logan is a very tough team and very skilled, so we have to go out there and let the chips fall where they may.”

Saraven Allen of Pine View is guarded by Cedar’s Japrix Weaver during Cedar’s 52-41 victory, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 8, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Everyone in the state is counting us out, so we just have to play as hard as we can and see what happens,” Brinagh added. “Our model is E+R=O (events plus responses equals outcome).”

This season, Pine View has been led by a trio of senior guards who collectively average more than 30 points per game. Saraven Allen is averaging 12.4 points and 3.5 steals per game, while Claire Newby is averaging 11.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 steals. Dawn Mead contributes 6.5 points per game.

Meanwhile, Logan has three players averaging in double figures, led by freshman guard Amber Kartchner with 14.4 points per game, while junior guard Mia Marin and senior forward Tori Craner each average slightly more than 11 points per game.

“Logan has a smart, athletic post that we’re going to have to find an answer for,” Pine View assistant coach Sunny Schuler said. Consistency with our offense is something we’re going to have to produce, but it’s all part of the postseason grind. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re definitely looking forward to the matchup.”

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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