TWIR9: One more region game, then holiday tourney time

COMMENTARY — We sneak one more region basketball game for the boys and girls into the schedule before the holiday season hits. That’s tonight for the girls and Wednesday night for the boys.

But that doesn’t mean the teams take two weeks off. In fact, there are plenty of holiday tournaments to keep things rolling, including three full days of wall to wall basketball at Dixie State’s Burns Arena Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Further down in this column is the full schedule for the remainder of December. It’s the first time I can ever remember having two region games before the Christmas break.

Coaches and players have to be wary of their teams falling to 0-2 before region really gets rolling. Desert Hills, Canyon View and Hurricane all lost their region-openers last week in boys basketball. The Falcons have a region bye tonight, but the Thunder and Tigers really need a win to avoid being in a hole the entire holiday season. Fortunately for both squads, they play at home in Wednesday night’s region contests, which should help their chances of getting that first win.

On a side note, it will be the first-ever region home game in the new Tigers Den as Hurricane is christening its fresh new home. Hopefully the Tigers can give themselves a better chance to win than they did in their first non-region game there, a 45-24 loss to Richfield.

Kody Wilstead's play has been a huge part of Pine View's 6-0 start. File photo from Hurricane at Pine View, St. George, Utah, Dec. 11, 2013 | Photo by Robert Hoppie
Kody Wilstead’s play has been a huge part of Pine View’s 6-0 start. File photo from Hurricane at Pine View, St. George, Utah, Dec. 11, 2013 | Photo by Robert Hoppie

The early story, well stories, in boys basketball are the undefeated Pine View Panthers and the surprisingly strong Dixie Flyers.

For the Panthers, a 6-0 start, including the championship of the NGS Invitational in Page, Ariz., isn’t shocking. Most of the experts, including the media and the Region 9 coaches at our Region 9 Media Day, picked the Panthers to have a good season and place third in region. And while it’s obvious that this is a playoff team, wins over Monument Valley and Sunnyside, both quality, athletic Arizona teams (Sunnyside is from Tucson). Basketball, more than any other sport, is all about match-ups and Pine View presents some difficult match-ups for team to defend, including size (Kody Wilstead and Collin Dowdell), speed (Chaz Peterson) and sharpshooting (Jack Bangerter and Ryan Koller).

Former Panthers coach Lynn Christensen said he doesn’t remember a Pine View team starting this fast since one of his Panthers teams went 10-0 back in the 1990s. True tests lie ahead for the Panthers, who have Snow Canyon Wednesday, plus Red Rock Rumble games vs. Corner Canyon, Mountain View and Maple Mountain, all 4A schools. But for now, it’s good to be black and maroon.

As for the Flyers, they finally lost a game (to Spanish Fork) in the Ken Robinson Classic after starting 4-0 with big wins over Stansbury, Springville and Desert Hills — and I mean BIG wins with the minimum victory margin being 13 points. It’s hard to figure how this Dixie team got so good so fast. The Flyers had no returning starters from last season and only Sam Guymon and Harrison Labrum had even played in a varsity game, combining to average 1.5 points a game last year. Stars R.J. Wilgar and Jake Hawes had zero varsity experience coming into the 2013-14 campaign. Now, that quartet is combining for 49.2 points per outing and has Dixie looking like a legitimate contender for the Region 9 crown.

Though light on experience, Dixie is heavy on guts and hard work. File photo from Spanish Fork at Dixie, Ken Robinson Classic, St. George, Utah, Dec. 14, 2013 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News
Though light on experience, Dixie is heavy on guts and hard work. File photo from Spanish Fork at Dixie, Ken Robinson Classic, St. George, Utah, Dec. 14, 2013 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Of course, it’s still very early. The Flyers have an excellent chance to be 8-1 going into the Christmas break with a game at winless Hurricane Wednesday and tough, but winnable games vs. Salem Hills, Payson and North Sevier at the Red Rock Rumble.

Our gut reaction to the rest of the region:
Snow Canyon (3-3, 0-0) — The Warriors will get it together, but it’s hard not to read anything into the loss at Enterprise (plus a 39-point loss to American Fork and a 28-point defeat to Roy). Then again, a win Wednesday night vs. Pine View would do wonders.
Desert Hills (2-5, 0-1) — The Thunder have too much experience and talent to play 2-5 basketball. DH played pretty badly against Dixie and Spanish Fork, but probably should have beaten Springville. Cedar will be a good test to see if the Thunder are ready to turn it around.
Cedar (3-1, 1-0) — Can just two studs lead a team to the promised land. Dustin Staggs and Kordan Nielson combine to average 31.5 points a game. The rest of the team averages 21.5 ppg. If someone else doesn’t step up, it could be tough making the playoffs for the Redmen. It’s a big game tomorrow night at Desert Hills.
Canyon View (2-3, 0-1) — Sterling Barnes seems pretty legit, but the Falcons got blasted in their only region contest by crosstown rival Cedar. Coach Rob Potter, a Steve Hodson disciple, seems to have things headed in the right direction in north Cedar City, but the Falcons have no height to combat the glut of big men in the region.
Hurricane (0-5, 0-1) — Nobody wants to talk about the 22-game losing streak and we don’t blame them. Cody Lebaron is an all-region caliber player, but like Staggs and Nielson in Cedar, he needs some help. The Tigers also suffer from a lack of height and region 9 is not a good place to be without a big man down low.

Here’s the schedule for boys and girls hoops for the rest of the month:

Tues., Dec. 17
Girls basketball
Canyon View at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Pine View, 7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 18
Boys basketball
Cedar at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Thurs,. Dec. 19
Boys basketball
Red Rock Rumble
Maple Mt. vs. N. Sevier, 11:45 a.m.
Lehi vs. Payson, 1:30 p.m.
Hurricane vs. Manti, 3:15
Desert Hills vs. Mt. Crest, 5 p.m.
Salem Hills vs. Dixie, 6:45 p.m.
Snow Canyon vs. Viewmont, 6:45 p.m. (at Snow Canyon High School)
Pine View vs. Corner Canyon, 8:30 p.m.
West Panther Classic
Canyon View vs. Herriman
Girls basketball
Dixie @ Mesquite Tournament, noon

Fri., Dec. 20
Boys basketball
Cedar at Springville
Red Rock Rumble
Dixie vs. Manti, 10 a.m.
Lehi vs. Viewmont, 11:45 a.m.
Desert Hills vs. Salem Hills, 1:30 p.m.
Hurricane vs. N. Sevier, 3:15
Maple Mt. vs. Mt. Crest, 5 p.m.
Pine View vs. Mt. View, 6:45 p.m.
Snow Canyon vs. Corner Canyon, 6:45 p.m. (at Snow Canyon HS)
Dixie vs. Payson, 8:30 p.m.
West Panther Tourney
Canyon View vs. tbd
Girls basketball
Desert Hills at Alta
Pine View at Timpview
Girls 3A Preview at Richfield
Hurricane vs. Kanab, 1 p.m.
Morgan vs. Cedar, 2:30 p.m.
Richfield vs. Canyon View, 8:30 p.m.
Mesquite Invitational
Dixie vs. tba

Sat., Dec. 21
Boys basketball
West Panther Invitational
Canyon View vs. tbd
Red Rock Rumble
Desert Hills vs. Corner Canyon, 10 a.m.
Snow Canyon vs. Mt. View, 11:45 a.m.
Salem Hills vs. Lehi, 1:30 a.m.
Pine View vs. Maple Mountain, 3:15 p.m.
Payson vs. Viewmont, 5 p.m.
Dixie vs. N. Sevier, 6:45 p.m.
Girls basketball
Desert Hills at Timpanogas
Pine View at Salem hills
Girls 3A Preview at Richfield
Hurricane vs. N. Sanpete, noon
Canyon View vs. Stansbury, 4:30 p.m.
Cedar vs. Richfiweld, 7:30 p.m.
Mesquite Invitational
Dixie vs. tbd

Fri., Dec. 27
Girls basketball
Carbon at Pine View

Sat., Dec. 28
Boys basketball
Salem Hills at Cedar
Girls basketball
Carbon at Snow Canyon
Dixie at Parowan

Mon. Dec. 30
Boys basketball
Desert Hills at Virgin Valley


This Week In Region 9 is written by Andy Griffin and provides a glance at prep sports in southern Utah. Click the email below for submissions and to provide updates from your favorite sports that we might have missed.

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