Cedar, Hurricane, Desert Hills set sights on girls 4A basketball tourney

Cedar forward Dream Weaver motions for the ball during first-round playoff game against Bear River, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 23, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News/Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — Now that last Friday’s first-round games are out of the way, the 4A girls basketball state playoffs will wrap up this week at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University in Orem.

Thursday’s four quarterfinal matchups will feature three Region 9 teams, along with four Region 10 teams. The other two 4A regions (Regions 11 and 12) didn’t fare well in last week’s opening-round games, as only Region 12’s No. 1 seed, the Logan Grizzlies, escaped with a first-round win.

Following is a preview of each of the four quarterfinal games, which will take place Thursday evening starting at 4:10 p.m. This year’s tournament is strictly single elimination, with no consolation games being played.

The 4A boys tournament is also being staged at the same venue on the same days (March 1-3), with the boys playing their four games earlier in the day Thursday, then switching to the two later games Friday and the later championship contest Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a look at the four 4A girls quarterfinal games scheduled for Thursday evening, in chronological order:

Desert Hills vs. Lehi, 4:10 p.m.

Desert Hills’ Rachel Myers (20), Desert Hills vs. Box Elder, Girls Basketball, St. George, UT, Nov. 30, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Desert Hills, Region 9’s No. 3 seed, pulled off an upset last Friday when they outlasted Ridgeline by one point at Millville, 50-49. Thursday in Orem, the Thunder will be the higher-seeded home team when they face the Lehi Pioneers, Region 10’s No. 4 seed. Lehi upset Bonneville, Region 11’s No. 1 seed, last Friday at Bonneville, 44-38.

Despite suffering 10 straight losses at the beginning of the season, including all of the preseason, the Lady Thunder finished the regular season with a 7-5 record in Region 9 play. After last Friday’s first-round win over Ridgeline, Desert Hills is now 8-13 overall.

Lehi, meanwhile, finished 6-6 in Region 10 play and is 13-10 overall. The Pioneers average 55.1 points per game in scoring while allowing 51.5 points defensively. Desert Hills, by comparison, is averaging 42.3 points per game in scoring while allowing 46.5.

Katelyn Philips leads a balanced Desert Hills offense with 6.8 points per game. Lehi’s top scorer is 6-foot-6 senior center Cassidy Johnson, who is averaging 10 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Hurricane vs. Mountain View, 5:50 p.m.

Hurricane, Region 9’s No. 2 seed, faces a tough test in top-seeded Mountain View, which finished in a tie with Salem Hills for the Region 10 championship. Mountain View and Salem Hills both ended the regular season with 11-1 records, each team beating the other once. Mountain View defeated Salem Hills 50-40 on Jan. 9, but Salem Hills avenged that loss with a 49-47 win at home against the Bruins on Feb. 2.

Hurricane High’s Alexa Christensen goes up for an inside shot against Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Mountain View (11-1, 19-2), which led the 4A classification in scoring this season with 67.9 points per game, is led by senior guard Tahlia White, who is averaging 23.6 points, with fellow guard Sam Eddy, also a senior, contributing 12.4 points.

Hurricane (8-4, 14-9) is led by senior guard Jayden Langford, who averages 12 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game. Other top scorers for the Lady Tigers include junior guard Madi Hirschi (8.2 points), senior guard Kylee Stevens (7.1 points) and senior forward Alexa Christensen (7.0 points).

Cedar vs. Salem Hills, 7:30 p.m.

Another tough matchup featuring a No. 1 and a No. 2 seed will feature the top-seeded Cedar Lady Reds from Region 9 (10-2, 18-4) facing the Salem Hills SkyHawks (11-1, 21-1) of Region 10. The SkyHawks’ only setback of the season came in the form of a 50-40 loss against Region 10 co-champion Mountain View Jan. 9.

Cedar guard Logann Laws takes the ball in for a fast break layup, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 15, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

For Cedar City, the key to beating Salem Hills will be in limiting the prolific production of senior forward Lauren Gustin, who averages an incredible 28.8 points per game, nearly half of the SkyHawks’ team scoring average of 60.9 points. Stopping or even slowing Gustin is likely to be a formidable test for Cedar’s trademark defense, which is holding its opponents to just 36.1 points per game, best among 4A teams.

Sophomore guard Japrix Weaver leads Cedar in scoring with 13.2 points per game, and also averages a team-high 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Other major contributors for Cedar include senior forwards Dream Weaver (8.3 points) senior forward Carley Davis (8.0 points), and freshman guard Logann Laws (6.6 points).

Spanish Fork vs. Logan, 9:10 p.m.

Logan (10-0, 18-4), Region 12’s No. 1 seed, will face Spanish Fork (8-4, 14-7), Region 10’s No. 3 seed, in the late game Thursday, the only contest on the girls’ slate that does not feature a Region 9 team.

Friday’s semifinals

The winners of the four quarterfinal games Thursday evening will then face each other in two semifinal contests Friday afternoon. The 2:30 p.m. semifinal will feature the winner of the Cedar vs. Salem Hills game facing the winner of Logan and Spanish Fork. Then, at 4:10 p.m., the winner of the Mountain View vs. Hurricane game will play the winner between Desert Hills and Lehi.

Friday’s two semifinal winners will then advance to play Saturday’s 4A championship game, scheduled for 11 a.m. Click here to see the full bracket.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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