CEDAR CITY — For Snow Canyon, the message was clear in the halftime locker room: Get the ball in the low post and everything will be just fine.
Nate Gottfredson scored nine second-half points and the Warriors dominated Richfield after intermission to record a 54-36 win Thursday morning at the3A State Basketball Tournament at SUU’s Centrum Arena.
The Wildcats had led 20-19 at the half behind 10 points from hot-shooting forward Brandon Willardson. But Snow Canyon clamped down on Willardson and no one else on Richfield stepped up to fill the scoring void. The Wildcats went more than four minutes in the third quarter without scoring and watched SC go on an 11-0 run to forge a 30-20 lead.
When Brenan Thomas finally rattled home a jumper with 3:45 to play in the third, Richfield looked like it might get something going. Instead, Snow Canyon scored seven more points in a row to push the lead to 37-22 just before the quarter ended. Gottfredson had a big three-point play in the run and Brock Staheli came off the bench to score five points and draw a couple of offensive fouls on Richfield.
“Brock had some good minutes and did some good things,” SC coach James Brown said. “I wanted to light the guys up at halftime, but that doesn’t work with this group, so we just talked about what we needed to do to be successful in the second half. And one of those things was to go inside to Nate more.”
Gottfredson finished the game with 13 points and Jake Frei had a couple of 3-pointers in the second half to help SC pull away.
“We made a few mistakes on defense on the first half, switching on screens,” Gottfredson said. “We came out with more intensity in the second half and got our post game going and the guys hit some shots.”
Richfield really struggled to score after halftime, managing just five points in the third quarter and four points the first six minutes of the fourth quarter before the score (51-28) dictated that both coaches clear their benches.
The Warriors return to the state semifinals for the second straight year. Last season, SC was knocked out by Bear River in a blowout loss in the semis by Bear River. Snow Canyon will play the Cedar Juan Diego winner at 5:50 p.m. Friday night at the Centrum.
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Videocast by Andy Griffin, Bryce Griffin, and Amber Green, St. George News
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