ST. GEORGE – Revenge is sweet. Even better is revenge served up on a platter, with a side of packed crowds, stomping on Pine View’s senior night and at blackout night at the Pit.
“It feels so good,” said Thunder senior Trey Tanner. “We just wanted to come back, pretty much for revenge. We just wanted to come back and make a statement right before playoffs and try to win it all. When we work as a team, we are pretty tough to beat. Our team chemistry is really good.”
The first half was evenly matched, with the only major difference being second-chance points in the paint. Desert Hills rebounded hard and led by nine points at several points in the first half. A late surge for Pine View, powered by Panther post Kody Wilstead, gave them a 6-0 run, including a monster dunk by the junior center. But Desert Hills kept up the pressure.
“We wanted to out-rebound them,” said Desert Hills head coach Wade Turley. “That was one of our goals. If we won the rebounding battle, we felt we would have a good chance at the game. It was something we focused on.”
Late in the third quarter, Pine View went on another 6-0 run, only to be silenced by a 3-point buzzer shot by Thunder forward Taylor Houston to end the third.
“We focused on staying calm and I just kept screaming that ‘Hey, stay calm, stay poised, and relaxed,’” Houston said. “We were all on the same page and we were working really well. That is probably the best team basketball we’ve played. We passed the ball really well there down the stretch that really helped us.”
With 11.5 seconds left in the game, the score was 60-58, with Desert Hills holding the lead and the possession. The ball was thrown into Desert Hills guard Jordan Hokanson, who was immediately fouled. He buried both free throws, making the score 62-58. With only 10.5 seconds left, the Panthers made their final plays and the ball fell into the hands of senior Ryan Koller, who missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
“I told them to focus on the task at hand and finish the game off,” Turley said. “I told them ‘Keep believing, execute,’ and just try to keep them positive. They played terrific as a team. They played their role to the best of their ability.”
Each team had three players in double-digits. Wilstead tallied 24 points, while Jack Bangerter had 11 and Collin Dowdell also totaled 11. Desert Hills was led by Hokanson with 15, Tanner with 12 and Brycen Williams with 10.
The DH win presents an interesting scenario in Region 9. With Pine View’s region season over at 8-4, both Cedar (7-4) and Desert Hills (7-4) can tie the Panthers for second place in region with a win Friday night in their final region games. Next up for the Thunder is Snow Canyon, the top-seeded team in the region, who they will play at Snow Canyon on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. If DH can pull off that road win, it would be in tie with the Panthers. Both would have a tiebreaker over Cedar as the Redmen were swept by Snow Canyon.
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