ST. GEORGE — The Cedar Redmen invaded Snow Canyon territory and came away with a 13-point victory in an intense region matchup Friday night. Keenan Nielson led the Redmen with 24 points while teammate Kyle Wood recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds in the 72-59 victory.
The start of the game hardly looked like the shootout that later commenced. Both teams struggled to find the basket as it ended with both in single-digits tied at 9-9. Wood scored the first two baskets for the Redmen while Snow Canyon relied on postman Justin Loveless. Loveless scored a field goal and hit 3 of 4 free throws in the period.
“He takes up a lot of space and uses that to his advantage,” said Cedar head coach Craig Cardon. “We don’t have anyone his size and they got him the ball where he wanted it.”
The Redmen pulled away in the second quarter. With the score tied at 11, Cedar went on a 12-1 run, paced by two baskets apiece from Nielson and Ben Brown. With 1:40 to play in the half, Cedar led 23-12. Another basket by Loveless and two free throws from Travis Casey pulled the Warriors to 23-16. After a free throw by Nielson, the Warriors Guillem Parra drove the ball down the court and hit a running jump shot behind the top of the arc to pull Snow Canyon within five, 24-19.
“The level of intensity goes way up in region games,” said Nielson. “We know there is more at stake and so do the other teams. Tonight was no exception.”
The Redmen pulled away even further in the third quarter. Wood and Nielson combined for 21 of Cedar’s 23 points. The quarter was marred by two consecutive technical foul calls against Snow Canyon. After a personal foul was called on Warrior post Kade Potter, teammate Brock Staheli received a technical for arguing the call. While Nielson was shooting free throws on that technical, Snow Canyon head coach James Brown received a second T.
Nielson would hit four consecutive free throws to give Cedar its biggest lead, 45-28, with 43 seconds remaining in the third. The teams would trade baskets before Loveless would score another basket to end the quarter. Going into the fourth, the Warriors trailed 47-32.
Snow Canyon ratcheted up the pressure in the fourth, alternating between quick traps on the baseline and the half-court trap at midcourt. While the Warriors managed to put two to three consecutive baskets together at a time, they could not seem to break the lead to single-digits.
“We were able to keep them at bay,” said Cardon. “But we should have been able to pull away further. They made some good plays and we made some mistakes. We need to be able to break these presses and put up some easy baskets.”
Staheli and T.J. Taimi were able to create a few Redmen turnovers and convert them to layups at the other end. But Nielson, Wood and Brown did enough with their teammates to keep their double-digit lead. The trio combined for 17 of the Redmen’s 25 fourth-quarter points. Staheli would score five more in the period before fouling out with just under two minutes to play.
Brown joined Nielson and Wood in double-figures with 13 points. Staheli led Snow Canyon, scoring all 12 of his points in the second half. He was joined by Brad Gresenti in double-figures with 11 points. Loveless, Taimi and Guillem contributed 9, 8 and 7 points respectively.
Cedar extended its winning streak to five games. The Redmen record improves to 7-4 overall, 1-1 in Region 9. They will host Dixie Wednesday night. Snow Canyon, who had a five-game winning streak of its own earlier this season, falls to 6-6, 1-2 in region. The Warriors will travel to Desert Hills on Wednesday.
Stats: Cedar 72, Snow Canyon 59
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