ST. GEORGE — Thursday night for the big first-place showdown between Desert Hills and Snow Canyon, there was intensity, excitement, frayed nerves and a dramatic test of wills. And then the game started, and it was all Desert Hills.
The No. 1-ranked Lady Thunder dominated every aspect of the game in cruising to a 54-20 blowout victory, gripping tightly first place in the region and leaving no doubt who the big dog on the block is in girls basketball in southern Utah.
“I was so excited to play Snow Canyon because we’ve had such a great rivalry the past couple of years,” DH point guard Blair Bliss said. “We were maybe a little over-excited and were a little sloppy in the first quarter. But after that we relaxed and tried to treat it like just another game. I thought we played well after that.”
Indeed, Desert Hills edged to a 9-4 first quarter lead, but exploded for 16 points in the second quarter to forge a 25-8 lead at halftime. Bliss and sophomore Kenzie Done combined for eight straight points late in the quarter as the Warriors got the fast break going. They did it with defense, forcing Snow Canyon into multiple empty possessions.
“In practice, it seems like we work on defense all the time,” Bliss said. “It’s important. We feel like our defense can help our offense. That’s one of the things we focus on.”
Desert Hills allowed just four points each in the first and second quarters and nine in the third as it was 41-17 after three. The Warriors were held scoreless in the fourth quarter until Sydney Bott was fouled with just two seconds left. Bott made all three free throws for the final margin in the game.
“We didn’t play that well on offense early, but our defense kept us in it until we could get it going,” Desert Hills coach Chris Allred said. “We got a nice boost from Kenzie Done. She just goes out there and gets the job done. She played some varsity as a freshman last year and the one thing she was lacking was confidence and through work this summer she has gotten that.”
Done had 12 points to complement Emily Seifert’s 14. The two guards were constantly open, receiving passes from Bliss and Ashley Beckstrand.
The key stretch in the game came from the 3:08 mark of the second quarter, when it was still somewhat of a game at 15-8, to the 3:53 mark of the third quarter, when a Done jumper made it 34-8. The 19-0 run featured Desert Hills at its best with Bliss and Beckstrand stealing balls, or Haley Bodnar blocking shots and clearing rebounds, all leading to fast-break finishes by Seifert, Bliss or Done.
“This game had a big-time feel to it,” Allred said. “That’s good. I think it contributed to the nerves a little bit, but that’s what it’s going to be like at the state tournament. We were able to loosen up after a sloppy start.”
Desert Hills, 14-1 overall and 5-0 in region, has won eight straight and hasn’t had a close game since the loss to 4A No. 1-ranked Timpview. The Lady Thunder have won their five region games by an average score of 65-32. DH next plays Tuesday at Canyon View.
Grace Walton was tops in scoring for Snow Canyon with seven points. The Lady Warriors drop a game behind DH into second place with a 4-1 region record. SC, 8-5 overall, hosts Dixie Tuesday night at the Jungle.
Hurricane 62, Cedar 53
The Lady Tigers grabbed held on to third place in the region with the offensive-minded road win Thursday night.
Hurricane trailed 8-7 midway through the first quarter, but went on a tear. The Tigers reeled off eight straight points to close out the quarter, then added five more to open the second quarter to open up a 20-8 lead. Steglich started the run and gave HHS the lead for good with a 3-pointer.
Hurricane led by as many as 16 in the second half before Cedar started chipping away, eventually pulling to within eight at 58-50. But the Tigers dropped ion their free throws late to hold on for the W.
Hurricane, 9-6 overall and 4-2 in region, is off Tuesday night and plays at Dixie next Thursday. The Tigers are just a half-game behind second place Snow Canyon.
The Lady Reds were led by Courtney Morley, who had 20 points. Cedar, 7-8 and 1-4, has a home game against Pine View Tuesday night.
Stats: HHS 62, CHS 53
Canyon View 55, Pine View 53 (2 OT)
The snake-bit Lady Panthers came up just short in their bid for their first victory of the season.
Tayzha Blackner tied the game just before the buzzer in regulation, then both teams score five points in the first overtime. But Josie Platt hit a huge 3-pointer and Shonate Clark made a pair of free throws as the Lady Falcons outscored PV 8-6 in the second overtime to record the win.
Platt and Clark finished with 14 points each and Blackner had 12 for Canyon View, which made up a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Pine View got a career-high 18 points from Ashley Richards. Tayvia Ah Quin added 13 and Amber Archibald had 10 for PV, which scored a season-high in the loss.
The Falcons, 8-6 overall and 3-2 in region, host top-ranked Desert Hills Tuesday night. The Panthers, 0-13 and 0-5, visit Cedar Tuesday night.
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