ST. GEORGE – Desert Hills’ history isn’t long, but it is rich.
The Thunder, despite a lot of new faces and not much varsity experience, improved to 3-0 on the young season with a 66-53 victory over Logan Friday night in the Ken Robinson Classic at Dixie State’s Burns Arena.
“We’ve got a target on our back,” junior Taylor Houston said. “Guys like (Brandon) Simister and ‘Ler (Ott) put it there. But we like it and we expect to win every time we go out and play.”
Desert Hills didn’t play well in the first half, trailing by as many as six points before cutting it to 26-22 at the break on a bucket by Ty Rutledge.
“I was very disappointed in the effort in the first half,” first-year head coach Wade Turley said. “The kids weren’t moving and nobody was rebounding. We challenged them a bit at halftime and said, ‘This is not who Desert Hills is.’”
The results were astounding. The Thunder came out and battled in the third quarter, finally taking the lead at 35-34 with a Jordan Hokanson trey with 3:25 to go in the third.
“We got chewed on a little at the half,” Houston said. “In pregame, we were not focused at all. We have to fix that.”
With the lead in their pockets, Desert Hills really turned on the jets. The Thunder held a 39-37 with 1:55 to go in the third, then proceeded to go on a 15-0 run that turned the game into a blowout.
“We don’t have a lot of experience, but we’ve been playing together for a long time,” sophomore Quincy Matthews said. “I just remind myself that I’m just out there playing basketball and having fun.”
Matthews (12 points) and Houston (18) were two of three players in double-figures for Desert Hills. Chase Thompson had 14 and the trio combined to go 16 for 23 from the floor in the game.
As a team, Desert Hills hit exactly half of its shots (25-50) and had assists on 16 of those 25 buckets. Hokanson led the team with five dimes.
“These kids are tenacious and they work hard,” Turley said. “We have a saying: ‘You have to earn the right to win.’”
The Thunder play their second game of the Robinson Classic Saturday at 1 p.m. at DSC, taking on the 3-0 Springville Red Devils.
Springville 57, Dixie 39
The Red Devils jumped on a sluggish Dixie early and never looked back. Led by the keen shooting eye of Bradley Kitchen, Springville turned a slight 14-7 edge into a 30-12 halftime bombing.
Kitchen had 18 points and Max Schreiner had 16 for the Red Devils, while Dixie had no one with more than seven points. Blake Barney and Cole Critchfield both came off the bench to hit 3-pointers and score seven points each. The closest Dixie got in the second half was 50-35.
Dixie plays at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Logan (following Desert Hills-Springville game).
Pine View 68, Chinle (Ariz.) 64
Dallin Milne had 28 points, eight rebounds and three steals as the Panthers rebounded from a first-round loss to Shadow Ridge (Ariz.) with a quality win.
Pine View trailed by 10 after the first quarter, but chipped away to make it 33-26 at the half. The third quarter is when the Panthers seized control, putting up 21 points to nine from Chinle.
Jack Bangerter, normally a sharpshooter, went just 1 for 7 from the floor, but made up for it by grabbing five boards and dishing out five assists. Kody Wilstead and Chaz Peterson each tossed in 13 for Pine View.
Boxscore: PineView vs Chinle 12-7-12
Alta 49, Snow Canyon 39
The Warriors dropped to 1-1 with the tough road loss. SC couldn’t get the offense going in the first half, tallying just 10 points going into intermission.
The second half was better as the Warriors hacked into the 19-point deficit. Nate Gottfredson had 15 points and Kallan Webster added 13, including three 3-pointers, but couldn’t get a break. The Hawks shot 29 free throws to Snow Canyon’s six. SC plays Jordan Saturday.
Sierra Vista (Nev.) 64, Canyon View 58
Brady Barrett had 15 points and McCoy Johnson tossed in 10 for the Falcons, who fell on the road.
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