CEDAR CITY – Desert Hills handed Cedar its first region loss Wednesday with a 47-43 road victory over the league leaders.
The Thunder avenged a home loss to the Redmen by returning the favor on Cedar’s home floor and tightened the race for the region championship in the process. Desert Hills now sits in third place with Snow Canyon and Cedar tied for first place, one game ahead of the Thunder.
“We’re just a physical team that has to grind games out,” Thunder coach Wade Turley said. “We’re not going to explode for 70 points on people, but we are very tough defensively. We feel like if we can be consistent with that, game in and game out, that is going to give us our best chance to come out victorious.”
In an effort to match Cedar’s size, Desert Hills started Trey Tanner and the big junior made the most of his first start of the season. Tanner finished the game just one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Ty Rutledge also finished with nine points for the Thunder, who improve to 5-2 in the region.
Desert Hills had jumped out to a seven-point lead early in the game, but Cedar’s 19-point second quarter put the Redmen ahead at 26-25 at the break. It was pretty much nip and tuck the rest of the way. The Thunder were stellar at the line, making 11 of 13 in the second half and 14 of 17 in the game. Desert Hills made just one 3-pointer in the game, by Rutledge.
Mike Hourigan paced the Redmen and led all scorers with 14 points, but the Thunder defense stymied Cedar’s efforts in the paint. Dustin Staggs and Ryan Armstrong combined for just 11 points and the 43 total points mustered by Cedar was its second lowest scoring output of the season.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well. Cedar was 15 of 42 in the game (35 percent) and made just one trey (by Kordan Nielson). Dason Coronado, who had five 3-pointers in the teams’ first meeting, was 0 for 3 from beyond the arc.
Desert Hills was 16 of 47 from the floor in the game, but out-rebounded the Redmen 23-15. The Thunder are 12-4 overall and 5-2 in Region 9.
The Redmen fall to 6-1 in the region and take on cross-town rival Canyon View on Friday.
Desert Hills hosts Dixie Friday and will try to maintain sole possession of third place as the Flyers are just one game behind the Thunder.
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