CEDAR CITY — Winning on the road in Region 9 is nearly impossible, even when you play well. Just ask the Desert Hills Thunder.
The Thunder took the lead at 14-12 at the 1:24 mark of the first quarter and held the lead for the next three quarters. DH built it to as many as eight and did not surrender the lead until there were 21 seconds left in the game when Kordan Nielson hit a pair of free throws to tie it at 50-50. Quincy Mathews’ leaner at the buzzer rimmed out to force the first extra period.
A Dustin Staggs basket to open the first OT gave Cedar its first lead of the game at 52-50. Jordan Hokanson made back to back buckets to put the Thunder back on top at 54-52 with 2:30 to play in OT. The score would stay that way until Nielson again forced a tie with a pair of free throws with a minute left to make it 54-54. After a DH turnover, Cedar’s Kyle Wood, a 3-point specialist, had a good look at a trey to win, but it bounced away and a second overtime was in order.
The Redmen again went inside to Staggs, who rewarded them with their second lead to start the second OT, making it 56-54 at the 3:30 mark. The Thunder couldn’t get a shot to fall in the second extra period and Staggs doubled the lead with another basket at the 1:23 mark from four feet out.
Austin Adams made it 58-56 with a pair of free throws, but Jaren Forsyth and Nielson each hit a free throw to make it 60-56. Taylor Houston’s single made free throw with three seconds left provided the final tally.
Staggs, who averages 14 a game, matched his season-best with 25 points. Nielson added 23. The Redmen, 10-7 overall and 5-3 in region play, salvage a season split with D-Hills. They also move into third place by themselves, a half-game behind 5-2 Snow Canyon and a full game ahead of the Thunder. Cedar is on a bye Friday and plays at Hurricane next Wednesday.
Desert Hills, 9-8 and 4-4, got 14 from Mathews and 13 each from Hokanson and Houston. The Thunder remain in a position to claim a playoff spot, one game ahead of 3-5 Dixie for fourth place. D-Hills hosts Hurricane Friday night.
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