ST. GEORGE — Dixie was all business in clinching Region 9’s top seed Friday night in a blowout of Hurricane. Meanwhile, Pine View and Desert Hills survived a couple of nailbiters on their home courts to remain tied for second place with a week left in the regular season. Here’s a look at all the action:
Dixie 65, Hurricane 38
There was no party. No cutting down of the nets. Not even a chest-bump.
These Flyers mean business.
Dixie clinched the No. 1 seed and at least a tie for the region championship with the dominating win over the Tigers at The Hangar. Tyler Bennett had 21 points and a handful of assists and James Eardley and Nate Crockett scored 10 points each for Dixie.
But despite the momentous occasion of earning the top seed and a region title, the Flyers simply enjoyed some postgame handshakes and started thinking about their next game, Wednesday at Snow Canyon.
“Our guys are focused,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “First of all, we want to make sure we win it outright, not just a share. That’s been our goal all year long. We’re a step closer to our big goal of the state championship. But we’ll wait until the last game before we celebrate.”
The Flyers are an impressive 7-1 in region (17-4 overall) and have a two-game lead on both Desert Hills and Pine View. Dixie swept both of those teams this season.
“There are still two teams who could tie us for the region title, so we’re going to keep taking things one game at a time,” Cuff said. “Our guys are still hungry and anxious to play their next game.”
Dixie might have been at its very best Friday night, with Bennett penetrating and dishing or scoring and Crockett and Eardley hitting jump shots. Richard Guymon, who has been on fire lately, had a quiet night with 5 points and no dunks. But Tanner Larkin came in and played well at the center spot for Dixie, which outscored Hurricane in every quarter, including 18-10 in the first.
“Hurricane came in focused and with some purpose,” Cuff said. “I feel for them because they’re a good basketball team. They’ve lost some tough games, but every game I’ve seen of theirs on film, they played tough and had a chance. Tonight, we just kind of got rolling in the second half and pulled away.”
Kirt McDaniel had 12 points and Jackson Last added 10 for the Tigers, who fell to 8-14 overall and 1-7 in region play. Hurricane is not technically eliminated from playoff contention. The Tigers trail Cedar and Snow Canyon by two games, so if the Tigers win two next week (including Wednesday at Cedar) and both the Warriors and the Redmen lose two, there would be a three-way tie for fourth place and the final playoff spot.
Dixie, meanwhile, can start planning for a home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs. The Flyers will host the No. 4 seed from Region 10 (most likely Stansbury), on Saturday, Feb. 20.
As for next week, the Flyers close out the regular season with that road game vs. Snow Canyon Wednesday and then will look for a little revenge next Friday with a home date against Cedar. So far, the Redmen are the only team to beat Dixie in region play and the only team to hand the Flyers loss in more than four weeks.
Pine View 56, Snow Canyon 52
It was a well-played game in an intense atmosphere Friday at Pine View’s Pit Gymnasium, with the Panthers squeaking out a win.
Big men Trey Farrer and Cody Ruesch combined for 27 points to help lift Pine View up and over Snow Canyon. Ruesch also took two charges in the final three minutes of the game to help preserve the lead for PV.
“This was a big win for us against a talented and well-coached team,” Pine View coach Darrell Larsen said. “Snow Canyon brought it tonight. They were very aggressive and very physical.”
It was close all the way with the Panthers biggest lead of 7 coming late in the third quarter and Snow Canyon’s biggest advantage of 2 coming with just under three minutes left in the game.
In fact, the Warriors trailed virtually the whole game until the 4:26 mark of the fourth quarter when Kobe Tupu’s shot in the lane made it 46-45 for SC. The teams traded baskets over the next minute or so, with Steve Bangerter’s drive in the lane putting Pine View on top.
But a free throw and then a basket by Justin Loveless gave Snow Canyon that 2-point lead at 48-46 with the clock ticking under three minutes. That’s when Brandon Yates, who hadn’t made a field goal all game, wriggled free for an open 3-point attempt from the right angle. The shot was nothing but net, putting Pine View ahead.
The rest of the Panther scoring would be at the line as Farrer and Yates made some big free throws to push the lead out to 6 points with under a minute to play. A late basket by SC provided the final 4-point margin.
“They really brought their A-game,” Bangerter said. “They’re a really physical team and a really good defensive team, plus they always play hard, so it was tough out there tonight. But Brandon Yates played like a stud tonight and Trey Farrer, he played like a man. Trey was great.”
Yates scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter, while Farrer had 8 of his team-high 14 in the first half.
“This is such a fun team to coach,” Larsen said. “Take Brandon (Yates), he works extremely hard. He’s been patient and put in his time and just worked harder and harder and he stepped up big tonight when we needed it. That’s what I keep telling the kids. You never know when it’s going to be your time, so be ready for the moment.”
Pine View opened the game with a 6-0 spurt and held a 5-point lead at halftime. The lead grew slightly to 7 at 42-35 after three quarters, with Ruesch scoring 7 of his 13 points in the third.
But Snow Canyon made its run in the fourth behind the inside play of Loveless and the outside play of TJ Taimi. The two combined to score 10 of SC’s 17 fourth-quarter points.
The win gives PV a season sweep of the Warriors and puts the Panthers at 5-3 in region play (12-7 overall). The defending state champs also clinched a playoff spot with the win, having swept both Cedar and SC. Pine View has a battle with Desert Hills at The Pit next Wednesday night in a game that will most likely determine second place in the region and assure the winner of a home playoff game in the first round.
Snow Canyon, which was led by Loveless and Tupu with 14 points each, has two tough ones next week, with a home game against first-place Dixie on Wednesday night and a road game at Desert Hills Friday. The Warriors are 8-11 overall and 3-5 in region.
Desert Hills 59, Cedar 56
Playing without leading scorer Marcus McKone (sore neck), the Thunder gutted out a 3-point win at home, with Logan Hokanson leading a furious rally in the fourth quarter.
DH trailed the Redmen by 6 heading into the final eight minutes, but outscored Cedar 18-9 to come away with the win. A 3-point attempt at the buzzer by Keenan Nielson just missed for the Redmen that would have forced overtime.
Hokanson (21 points) was front and center, along with Jayce Jones (12 points), in Desert Hills’ game-seizing rally in the fourth.
He opened the quarter with a 3-pointer to cut it to a 47-44 Cedar lead just 12 seconds into the fourth. At the 6:04 mark, Tanner Turley hit a pair of free throws that cut it down to 47-46. After a miss at the other end, Parker Haynie crashed the glass and put the ball back in the hole to make it 49-46 with under six minutes to play.
Jones answered with a basket in the post, then DH retook the lead with a basket by Braxton Porter after a Cedar turnover to make it 50-49.
Mason Fakahua gave Cedar what would turn out to be its last lead of the night at the 5:08 mark with a bank shot that made it 51-50. The Redmen went cold after that, not scoring again for nearly five minutes.
The Thunder started the 6-0 run with a Hokanson drive that made it 52-51 near the four-minute mark. After a Cedar miss, Jones rebounded a Turley 3-point attempt and laid it in for a 54-51 DH advantage. Hokanson then made a fast break layup to push it to 56-51 with 1:39 left in the game. All-totaled, it was a 15-4 Thunder run that swung the tide.
With the score 58-53, Ethan Boettcher nailed a 3-pointer for the Redmen to cut it to a 2-point game with 29 seconds left. After a Ty Simister free throw, Cedar had one last chance. Nielson, who has been clutch all year in late-game situations, couldn’t get the tying 3-pointer to go as the game clock expired.
Nielson finished with 23 points and 4 assists for Cedar, with Haynie adding 17 points and 8 rebounds.
DH only committed seven turnovers in the game and made half its shots (22 for 44). The Thunder hang onto a tie for second place with the win at 5-3 in region (15-4 overall). Desert Hills plays at Pine View Wednesday and then closes the regular season at home against Snow Canyon.
Cedar, which won the rebounding battle 25-20, led by as many as 9 points in the second half. The Redmen, 8-10 overall and 3-5 in region, close the season next week with Wednesday’s home game against Hurricane and a Friday trip to first-place Dixie.
Stats: Desert Hills 59, Cedar 56
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