ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills coach Wade Turley was hoping to rest some of his starters and get some younger players a little playing time against last-place Hurricane Wednesday night. What he got, instead, was a dogfight from a hungry Tigers team that ended with a tough 40-31 win for the Thunder.
“I’ve to to hand it to Hurricane,” he said. “They’ve got some scrappy kids who play hard. I give Hurricane a lot of credit. They’re coaches called time outs early and kept them in the game.”
Most folks expected a blowout in the Thunderdome, with Desert Hills playing well (four straight wins) and Hurricane still sitting on a goose egg in region wins. It started that way as well, with DH scoring the game’s first 11 points.
But then the script got flipped, with the Thunder finding it nearly impossible to find an easy shot.
“It was pretty sloppy,” Turley said. “As coaches, we always try to keep our players from having letdowns. We led 11-0 and then only scored eight points to rest of the first half. We just couldn’t get shots to go down.”
After that initial surge, it was Hurricane that started to control the paint and the tempo, not easy things to accomplish with a noisy and active Desert Hills student section.
The Tigers actually pulled to within 19-18 at the half. Enter leading man Ty Rutledge.
“It was tight in the middle of the third before Ty kind of took over a little bit again,” Turley said. “Everyone was struggling a bit and he came out and made some big shots. Chase Thompson had a big 3 in the fourth quarter that helped us a lot as well.”
The 40 points was the lowest total of the year for a Thunder teams that averages 53.7 a game. Desert Hills scored 68 last Friday against Dixie.
“I told the guys that some nights are just like that,” Turley said. “I was proud of the way our defense stepped up and won the game for us.”
Hurricane hit just 4 of 19 shots inside the arc and 4 of 17 shots from 3-point land. All totaled, the 8 for 36 game was just 22 percent.
The Thunder shot a little better, going 12 for 27 in the game (36 percent). But Desert Hills was miserable from the line, making just 10 of 23 charity shots (43 percent).
Still, the win keeps the Thunder right in the thick of the Region 9 race at 7-2 (124-4 overall), a half-game behind Snow Canyon.
Desert Hills, which was led by Rutledge’s 13 points and Thompson’s nine, play at Pine View Friday.
“Their backs are against the wall a little bit, so you know they’ll be ready,” Turley said. “This is a pretty big game for us. I just hope we execute a little better on offense.”
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