ST. GEORGE – No coach likes to tell his team its in a must-win situation, so Dixie High’s Ryan Cuff kept things quiet this week in practice.
But after two straight region home losses, Cuff and his players knew this was a critical week for them and they responded with two road wins, including Friday night’s 70-55 victory over Pine View.
“We were ready to play,” said team leader Blake Barney. “We were the most ready to play tonight of any game this year. This was huge for us.”
Barney had 21 points and Kyler Smith added 19 as the Flyers improved to 3-2 in Region 9 with the stirring victory in front of a big crowd at Pine View’s Pit Gymnasium.
Dixie had led by 10 at the half, but saw Pine View outscore the Flyers 18-8 in the third quarter to tie the game at 45-45 with eight minutes to go. It was 50-49 with five minutes left when Dixie went on an 8-0 run to seize control of the game.
“We didn’t panic,” Cuff said. “The coaches stayed calm and the players stayed calm. I think Pine View got a little tired, too, after making the comeback.”
Cole Critchfield, Jordan Hall, Barney and Smith all hit buckets in the run as Dixie never trailed in the game. The game was tied twice, at 45 and also at 47 a minute into the fourth quarter.
Dixie got hot from beyond the arc in the game, hitting six long balls, four more than the team averages on the season. Barney had three of them.
“I wasn’t even sure if I was going to play basketball, but it sure is nice being out there with my friends and playing ball,” he said. “I’m starting to get my game back a little, my handle and my shooting touch.”
Barney, who was named the 3A football MVP after leading the Flyers to the state championship in November, did not play basketball last season. Late in the game, the Dixie crowd took up the chant, “MVP, MVP, MVP,” as Barney stepped to the free throw line.
“He’s a big part of things for us and we’re glad he’s out there,” Cuff said. “He means a lot to this team and he was one of the key contributors tonight.”
Dixie started quick and quick and held a 21-11 lead early in the second quarter. Pine View chipped away and had it to 23-18 with under four minutes to go until halftime. But Barney started feeling it, scoring eight points in just over a minute (two treys and a deuce) to help push the lead out to 33-25.
With the halftime lead at 37-27, Pine View needed a lift and Chaz Peterson provided it. Hit hit consecutive 3-pointers in between a couple of Kody Wilstead baskets as PV outscored Dixie 10-2 to start the third quarter. Dallin Milne and Collin Dowdell also contributed as Pine View finally got the score tied at 45-45 in the final minute of the third.
But Dixie, which is 6-9 overall, bested the Panthers 25-10 in the final quarter. The Flyers made their final six free throws in the last 1:12 to seal the win.
Pine View, which falls to 8-6 overall and 1-3 in Region 9, has lost four straight. Milne led the Panthers 18 points and Wilstead added 13 to go with 10 rebounds.
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