ST. GEORGE — The Dixie Flyers took another step toward erasing last year’s runner-up finish, dominating Desert Hills and all but clinching the Region 9 title Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the team the Flyers lost to in the state championship, Pine View, captured a huge road win at Cedar to pull into a tie for second place. Snow Canyon also got a road win at Hurricane as the Warriors are making their push for a playoff spot.
Region 9 hoops action was wild and woolly once again and here’s a recap of the action:
Dixie 54, Desert Hills 45
A 12-0 run at the end of the first half gave the Flyers a lead they would never surrender Wednesday night at The Hangar.
Dixie opened the game with 7 straight points, but the Thunder answered with a 14-2 run to take a 14-9 lead midway through the second quarter. The rest of the half, and the game, belonged to Dixie. The Flyers scored 12 unanswered to close out the half and push to a 23-14 lead at intermission.
“We just got a few defensive stops and were able to attack the basket on the other end,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “Our defense led to offense. We got a few tips, deflections, which led to easy baskets.”
The Flyers led by as many as 20 points in the second half before Logan Hokanson and the Thunder mounted a comeback. A couple of 3-pointers by Hokanson pulled Desert Hills within 10 in the fourth quarter. Then Tanner Turley had back-to-back huge plays. The first was a trey from the top of the key. The second, which came with 1:35 left in the game, was an old-fashioned 3-point play which cut the Dixie lead to 47-41.
“We allowed them to get back in the game,” Cuff said. “Give them credit, they never gave up. But we shouldn’t have let it get that close. We learned a lesson against Cedar (a 51-49 loss) because we had a huge lead in that game and gave it away. We don’t need anymore lessons like that.”
Along with the solid play of star Tyler Bennett (17 points), Cuff said Malachi Otis (9 points, 6 assists) and Richard Guymon (10 points, 10 rebounds) were stellar.
“Tyler just makes everyone around him better and Richard has been playing unreal lately,” he said. “He’s been our kind of X factor. He’s been huge on rebounds and playing defense. As for Malachi, he’s our glue. He keeps us together and he’s so unselfish. It was fun to see him hit that shot tonight.”
Otis hit a buzzer-beater from about 50 feet to end the third quarter.
After the late Thunder rally, Dixie nailed enough free throws in the final 95 seconds to seal the win, despite another late 3 by Hokanson. It is the second big win over DH this year for the Flyers, who now have a two-game lead in Region 9 with three games remaining. Dixie has also swept the two second place teams (D-Hills and Pine View), so one victory in the Flyers final three games clinches the region title and the No. 1 seed.
“Tonight was huge for us,” Cuff said. “We’re in great shape, but you know what? We’re taking it one game at a time. That’s been our attitude from the beginning of region. Just take it one game at a time and if you keep winning, you could be region champs. Right now we’re thinking about our game Friday against Hurricane.”
Dixie, 16-4 and 6-1 in region, hosts the Tigers Friday night at The Hangar.
DH guard Marcus McKone was injured late in the contest in a dogpile for a loose ball. His status is unknown for the Thunder’s game Friday at home against Cedar. Hokanson led Desert Hills, 14-4, 4-3, with 15 points.
Snow Canyon 56, Hurricane 51 (F/OT)
This was deemed a loser-out game as these two teams desperately needed to win to have a chance at the playoffs and it was played that way, with the Warriors ultimately prevailing in the extra period.
“We were fortunate because Hurricane is a great-shooting team from 3 and we lost the shooter a few times,” SC coach James Brown said. “That helped them make that comeback. When Hurricane’s hitting 3s, they’re tough to beat. Fortunately,we made our free throws in the overtime and survived.”
Snow Canyon led most of the game and by as many as 12 points. A mini-run by Hurricane at the end of the third cut the Snow Canyon lead to 38-31 at the quarter break. Then the Tigers caught fire, opening the fourth with a 12-4 spurt to take a 43-42 lead with five minutes to play. Landon Barker had a pair of 3-pointers and Reagan Hinton scored twice in the paint in the run.
The Tigers led 44-43 with just over a minute to play when TJ Taimi drifted to the left angle and nailed a 3-pointer to give the Warriors the lead back.
“TJ’s 3-pointer was big for us,” Brown said. “We really needed that.”
After a free throw by Caeden Barney made it 47-44, Hurricane was able to tie the game up on yet another Barker 3-pointer, this one from the baseline with 15 seconds left. Snow Canyon turned the ball over seconds later, but the Tigers couldn’t get off a decent shot to end regulation.
Surprisingly, the Warriors were able to prevail in the extra period without making a field goal. All 9 points in the extra frame came at the free throw line, with Taimi making 5 of 6 and Barney and Justin Loveless hitting a couple each.”
“This game was very important,” Loveless said. “We were able to hit some big free throws, so that was good. Hopefully we can build up some momentum now. We didn’t make the playoffs last year, so hopefully we can this year.”
Taimi started the OT with a pair of free throws with Hinton tying the score at 49 with a basket in the post. That would be the last field goal of the game. The Warriors took the lead on a freebie from Taimi at 50-49 with under two minutes left, then Barney and Taimi made charity shots after Hurricane misses to push the lead to 54-49 with 14 seconds left.
Kirt McDaniel made 2 of 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer to cut it to 54-51 with nine seconds left, but Loveless sealed the win with two charity shots with seven seconds to go for SC.
“Our kids responded well in the overtime, especially on defense” Brown said. “TJ was very active and got his hands on the ball and we got some calls late that helped. Everyone contributed tonight.”
Snow Canyon, 7-10 overall and 3-4 in region play, was led by Loveless’s 12 points and Kobe Tupu contributed 11. Caeden Barney ended up with 10 and Taimi had 8. Loveless had nine rebounds and Tupu had seven for SC, which travels to Pine View Friday night.
Hurricane, which got 15 from Barker and 13 from Hinton, was just 7 for 17 from the free throw line (41 percent). Snow Canyon was 21 of 30 (70 percent). The two teams combined for 40 turnovers. Hinton had a game-high 18 rebounds.
The Tigers are at league-leader Dixie Friday night.
Pine View 55, Cedar 45
The Bang-Train was on track Wednesday.
Steve Bangerter, who signed a letter of intent to play college football at Dixie State earlier in the day, had 17 points and played solid defense on Cedar star Keenan Nielson to help the Panthers complete a season sweep of the Redmen.
Pine View, which beat Cedar 64-45 a couple of weeks ago in St. George, dominated the glass and excelled at the free throw line to come away with the road win. The victory halts Cedar’s three-game winning streak.
The Panthers opened the second quarter with 10 straight points and ended up with a 12-5 advantage in the second, sending a 10-9 advantage all the way up to a 22-14 lead at intermission.
Rebounding was key as a very good rebounding Panther squad took advantage of a weak-rebounding Cedar team to the tune of a 30-12 advantage on the glass. Forward Cody Ruesch had 11 points and six rebounds and center Trey Farrer had 10 points and nine boards. Even point guard Tyler Johnston had six rebounds.
Bangerter had two quick baskets, including a 3-pointer, as Pine View was able to stretch the lead into double digits in the third quarter. Cedar pulled to within six a couple of times in the final period, but never made a serious run in the sloppy game.
It was a crucial road win for PV, which improves to 4-3 in region and into a tie with Desert Hills for second place. The Panthers, who made 20 of 27 free throws in the game (74 percent), are two games behind Dixie, but are now in a position to have a home playoff game if they can win out. Pine View plays its last three games at home, including Friday’s battle with Snow Canyon and next Wednesday’s key game vs. Desert Hills.
Cedar, which got 12 from Nielson, 11 from Mason Fakahua and 10 from Parker Haynie, falls to 3-4 in region, tied with Snow Canyon for fourth place. Cedar and SC split their games this season. The Redmen are at Desert Hills Friday night.
Stats: Pine View 55, Cedar 45
Region 9 Standings
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