HURRICANE – The Dixie Flyers proved that the game is not over until it actually is over with a thrilling victory 45-43 victory in the Region 9 opener for both teams.
The Flyers (2-3, 1-0) waited until the final period to get things going and poured in 21 fourth-quarter points to rally past the Tigers (1-3, 0-1).
Of course, when Blake Barney is on your side, your team will always have a chance to win. Barney overcame a sluggish start and scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of game-tying free throws and a go-ahead fast break layup late in the game.
“We’re just glad that Blake Barney is playing basketball,” Flyers coach Ryan Cuff said. “We have to be patient because he hasn’t played a lot with us. Early in the game he’s tried to do too much. He found a rhythm in the fourth quarter. He’s just a winner. It’s nice to have a guy like that on your basketball team that is a coach on the floor.”
The game featured two teams on a very similar path heading into tonight’s match-up at Hurricane.
Both teams managed only a single victory in their first set of games. Both teams are relying heavily on their guards to score due to the lack of big-man presence in the paint. Both teams entered the game in Hurricane looking to capitalize on a chance for a fresh start. But as always is the case in sports, only one team could end up victorious.
The Flyers struggled to find a shooting rhythm through the first three quarters, but junior guard Jordan Hall stepped up just in the nick of time. Trailing by eight points with six minutes to play, Hall buried back-to-back treys to spark the Dixie comeback. After that, the sharp shooting was contagious. Senior guard Dakota Bair nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer a few possessions later to put the Flyers on top for good.
“It was kind of an ugly game, but we played really hard,” Hall said. “I was pretty wide open on both (shots) and I got good passes from my teammates.”
But the Dixie shooting wasn’t all fun and games in the fourth quarter. The Flyers made only 1-of-6 free throws while trying to take their first lead of the game. But Hurricane was unable to capitalize and turn the misses into points on the other end of the court.
“I could kind of sense the pressure of the moment,” Tigers coach Brian Vaiafanua said. “We haven’t been there at all this year. With a young and inexperienced team, we just have to learn how to embrace that and work through that.”
And not to be overshadowed by the exciting finish was the reason the Dixie comeback was even possible. Senior forward Kyle Hansen scored 10 points through the first three quarters and finished as the Flyers’ leading scorer.
“Kyle Hansen is a guy that we know what he can do offensively, but we also know what he can do defensively,” Cuff said. “When he starts going defensively, his offensive game improves. We’ve got to have his leadership out on the floor. He brings a lot to us.”
Hansen deflected the praise to his teammates and said getting the win was more important than who scored.
“We’ll be in games like this all year,” Hansen said. “Now we know how to come out on top and finish games when it really matters.”
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