CEDAR CITY — From the emphatic chants emanating from the Cedar High student section, there’s no doubt who they think the Region 9 Most Valuable Player is. Every time Kordan Nielson touched the ball in the fourth quarter of the Redmen’s 76-59 victory over Pine View, the CHS students shouted “MVP, MVP, MVP.”
And why not? The Cedar senior was just putting the finishing touches on a phenomenal night that included a career-high 34 points, four long 3-pointers, 12 of 13 free throws, 10 or so assists, a handful of steals and a constant stream of crossovers and hesitation moves that repeatedly burned the Pine View full-court press.
“He’s as good as we’ve had come through here in a long time,” Cedar coach Craig Cardon said. “His first couple of shots really set the tone for us. Whether that was his intent or not, I don’t know. But it set the tone for us and it got us energy and it got us confidence and it got the crowd energized.”
Nielson’s four treys all came in the first half and he and Dustin Staggs helped Cedar forge a 40-29 advantage at the break. The Redmen closed the half on a 7-0 run to grab that double-digit lead and the Panthers never got closer than that the rest of the game.
Nielson hit a pair of 23-foot 3-pointers in the first two and a half minutes of the game to start things right for Cedar. Pine View matched Nielson’s hot shooting with mid-range game from Jed Newby, Chaz Peterson and Kody Wilstead. When Ryan Koller hit a layup with 3:19 to go in the first quarter, PV led 11-8.
Staggs hit a basket inside to make it 11-10 and Nielson turned a Pine View turnover into his third triple of the quarter to make it 13-11 for CHS with 2:25 to go in the first quarter. The teams traded baskets the rest of the first and it ended 19-17 with Cedar on top.
Nielson got his fourth 3-pointer of the half with 6:48 to go in the second quarter to put the Redmen ahead 22-17. Pine View stayed in it with Collin Dowdell and Wilstead battling Staggs inside for position and baskets and with 2:54 to go in the half, it was a four-point game at 33-29.
Unfortunately for Pine View, the final three minutes of the half were a disaster for the Panthers. Nielson beat the press and hit a leaner in the lane to make it 35-29. After a Panthers miss, Nielson found Staggs, who muscled home a basket on the low block to make it 37-29 with 1:52 to go in the half. After an unforced Pine View turnover, Nielson drew a foul on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to make it 40-29.
The Redmen also started the second half on an 8-3 run to put any Pine View comeback thoughts to rest as it was 48-32 just 2:38 into the third quarter. The Redmen lead ballooned to as many as 20 before the final margin of 17.
Nielson, whose previous career-high was 25 points, leads Region 9 in scoring at 18.6 points a game. He also has 36 3-pointers this season, which also No. 1 in the region.
Cedar, which has won five games in a row after losing back to back road game to Pine View and Snow Canyon, is now 7-3 in region, a half-game behind Pine View and one game behind the Warriors. Snow Canyon visits Cedar next Wednesday night.
“Wednesday’s a huge game,” Cardon said. “Hopefully we can come with the same energy. Snow Canyon’s a very good team and so we’ve got our hands full. Hopefully the crowd will come with the same energy. It should be a heck of an environment.”
Staggs finished with 22 points and Greyson Hulet came off the bench to score 8 for Cedar. Wilstead had 21 for Pine View, which fell to 18-4 and 8-3 in region play. The Panthers, which also got 10 from Dowdell, finish their regular season with a home game vs. Desert Hills Wednesday night.
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