ST. GEORGE — The sixth man is alive and kicking and, surprisingly, he doesn’t live at Desert Hills.
Using some hot early shooting and a large and raucous student section at The Pit, Pine View knocked off the Thunder 44-34 Friday night.
“The energy that our student-body brought tonight, I mean t was a phenomenal job from top to bottom,” Panthers coach Darrell Larsen said. “I played in front of hundreds of thousands of people at one time and it was nothing compared to this.”
Larsen, who played college football at Wisconsin, likened the lift the crowd gave to his experience in winning a Rose Bowl.
Red-hot Jack Bangerter and Chaz Peterson ignited a 14-0 first-quarter run for the Panthers, turning a 6-2 deficit into a 16-6 lead. Desert Hills never seriously challenged after that, getting no closer than six points the rest of the way.
“The student section was great,” Pine View’s Kody Wilstead said. “I haven’t seen a student section like that ever in my life.”
Despite the protestations of game security, the Pine View students rushed the floor when the final buzzer sounded. They deserved to celebrate with the team.
“The student-body came out tonight and it was great,” Bangerter said. “They just supported us. It was fun. We all have a headache.”
Early in the game, Peterson was hot, hitting a couple of fade-away jumpers and a 3-pointer from the corner. Bangerter also hit a trey as part of the 14-0 run and Wilstead, Dallin Milne and even reserve center Wes Moeai had buckets during that stretch.
“Wee were mentally prepared and we were focused,” Dallin Milne said. “We knew what we had to do and we were confident. That’s what did it.”
Twice Desert Hills pulled to within six. The first came early in the second quarter at 16-10, but was answered by an 8-0 Pine View run. Early in the third quarter, the Thunder pulled to within 24-18. The Panthers answered once again. Cameron Hughes scored, followed by consecutive jumpers from Bangerter, one of which was behind the arc. The 7-0 run made it 31-18 and PV would maintain the big lead the rest of the way. It even swelled to 17 at 44-27 late in the game.
“The kids, they really played hard tonight,” Larsen said. “They bought into the fact that it starts on the defensive end.”
The Thunder suffered through a second consecutive miserable shooting night, making just 11 of 42 field goal attempts (26 percent). DH also killed itself at the free throw line, making just 11 of 25 (44 percent). The Thunder missed four consecutive free throws during PV’s 8-0 run in the second quarter and were just 2 of 8 in that period.
The Panthers were a little better, making 15 of 41 shots (36 percent). Pine View hit half its 3-point attempts (4 of 8) and was 10 for 16 from the line (62 percent).
Bangerter finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Milne had eight points and five assists and Wilstead scored seven, while blocking seven shots and collecting 11 rebounds.
It was a huge win for PV, which stayed just one-half game behind Dixie for the final playoff spot. The two teams meet next Wednesday at The Hangar at Dixie High.
The Panthers, 11-8 overall and 4-5 in Region 9, finish the regular season with home games vs. Canyon View and Cedar.
Desert Hills, 14-5 and 7-3, drops a half-game behind Cedar and into third place. The Thunder close out the regular season at first-place Snow Canyon next Friday, then at home against Canyon View Feb. 12.
No one scored more than seven points for the Thunder, though Ty Rutledge, Chase Thompson and Trey Tanner did collect that many.
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