Desert Hills defense smothers Cedar; Lady Thunder heading to championship game (updated with video postgame and highlights)

3A State Playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 28, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – There was a block party in Cedar City and Haley Bodnar was the gracious host.

Desert-Hills-smcedar-smDesert Hills’ powerful center denied seven Cedar shot attempts and her teammates turned away four more as the Lady Thunder defeated Cedar 49-20 Friday afternoon, earning a trip to the state championship game for the third straight year.

“That was so much fun,” Bodnar said. “I do feel a little bad for them sometimes, blocking all their shots. But it’s just payback, I guess.”

Desert Hills' Haley Bodnar and Kassidy Cox converge on Cedars Courtney Morey during the 3A State Playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 28, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Haley Bodnar and Kassidy Cox converge on Cedars Courtney Morley during the 3A State Playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 28, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Defense was definitely the story on this day for Desert Hills. Cedar, which had made 113 3-pointers this season, managed one measly trey against the Thunder D. The Lady Reds scored seven or fewer points in all four quarters of the game.

“We didn’t give up very many uncontested shots,” DH coach Chris Allred said. “We did a really good job of off the ball being really aware of where their shooters were.”

Bodnar scored in the post and Blair Bliss opened the game by hitting a couple of 3-pointers, both on kick-out passes from Bodnar and Desert Hills started the game with an 8-2 lead.

Cedar hung in there and trailed just 10-4 with under two minutes to go in the first on a basket by Courtney Morley. But the Thunder would close out the period with five quick points on slashing layup by Ashley Beckstrand and a 3-pointer by Kenzie Done, making it 15-4 after one.

The run continued with five more DH points to make it 20-4 as Bodnar had a three-point play and Bliss hit a couple of free throws.

Cedar made a mini run at the end of the half to pull within 23-11 at the break as Mckayla Carrington sparked her team with a 3-pointer. But the Thunder opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run to put any upset thoughts on ice.

Bodnar did get in some foul trouble with three personals in the third quarter. Kassidy Cox entered the game at the five and picked up where Bodnar left off, recording a couple of blocked shots and owning the paint.

“We’ve had a number of occasions where Haley either needed a break or got in a little bit of foul trouble and Kassidy’s always gone in and stepped it up in those situations,” Allred said. “She knows she’s got to control the paint on defense and offensively be a threat.”

Bodnar finished with 12 points and 7 blocks, while Bliss led all scorers with 17 points. Done added eight points. No Cedar player had more than four points.

Desert Hills, 24-1, is appearing in the third straight 3A championship game. In 2012, the Thunder lost by three to Snow Canyon. Last season Desert Hills lost in the closing seconds to Dixie.

DH will play Morgan, 22-1, which held off a talented North Sanpete team 58-48 in the other semifinal.

Videocast by Bryce Griffin, and Amber Green, St. George News

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