ST. GEORGE – Halfway. Five games in the books, five to go.
That’s where we sit in Region 9 after Wednesday’s action, and the Dixie Flyers are still perfect. Desert Hills, which will play Dixie at home next Wednesday, also won, capturing a huge road win against Pine View with a stirring defensive play at the end. And we should not forget about Hurricane, which won its second straight game and is in fourth place.
What a first half of region play. Who knows what the second half will hold?
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action, which featured some red-hot shooting all around the region:
Desert Hills 47, Pine View 44
At times, Logan Hokanson, Cam Clayton, Kade Moore and McKay Lambert all threatened to steal the show with their outside shooting. Hokanson, in particular, was precision-like in his perimeter game, making four of the deep balls.
But the real story was defense. The Thunder held Pine View to 19 second-half points (nine in the third, 10 in the fourth) and got one incredibly athletic blocked shot at the end of the game.
With under 20 seconds to go and Desert Hills nursing a 47-44 lead, Pine View worked for a shot. But a missed 3-pointer was rebounded by Kade Moore with less than five seconds left. Moore, knowing that his team needed three points, not two, kicked the ball back outside to a seemingly wide open Kyler Vaka. DH’s Jacob Mathews describes what happened next.
“We were supposed to get the rebound, but didn’t,” he said. “I was under the basket and when I saw them pass it out to (Vaka), I thought, ‘Oh know, overtime.’ Then I saw this flash, this streak out of the corner of my eye. It was Braxton (Porter). What a big block.”
Porrter blocked the ball out of bounds in the back court with 2.8 seconds to go, leaving Pine View just a desperation 25-footer, an airball, as the buzzer sounded. As for Porter, he said he just reacted.
“They actually had another guy open on the baseline and for just a second I thought, ‘Which guy should I guard?'” he said. “I just made my decision and just went for it. I started running out even before they threw it out there and jumped and got it. I guessed right.”
In the first half, it was more about the offenses of the two teams. Pine View opened up with six straight points by pounding it inside with Dylan Hendrickson and Trey Farrer for a 6-0 lead. But then the shooters for D-Hills got it going. Porter, Clayton and Hokanson hit consecutive 3-pointers and Hokanson got free inside for an 11-0 run and an 11-6 Thunder lead midway through the first quarter.
Amazingly, Pine View would not recapture the lead again on its home court, though the Panthers did pull to within two twice and one once.
The Panthers kept battling back, but DH led 18-10 after one quarter, 31-25 at halftime and 40-34 after three. Hokanson (18 points) opened the fourth with a deep trey to give the Thunder their biggest lead of the night at 43-34.
“We are starting to really gain some confidence shooting the ball,” DH senior forward Tanner Turley said. “It starts with defense. Once we get our defense going, it seems the shots start falling. But we shot really well Friday at Snow Canyon and I think it just kind of carried over from there.”
Pine View slowly crept back into the game, with Moore hitting a trey 20 seconds after Hokanson’s 3, then Moore nailed another two minutes later to make it 45-40 with 5:15 to go. Then the well went dry for both teams. Over the next three minutes, everyone missed and the teams traded turnovers. The only points came when PV’s Dylan Hendrickson hit two free throws with 4:34 to go to make it 45-42.
But with just over two minutes to play, the Panthers rattled the ball loose from Desert Hills and tossed it ahead to Hendrickson. His one-handed tomahawk jam with 2:02 to play made it 45-44.
A minute later, the Thunder missed a trey in the corner. But Pine View also missed and Farrer was whistled for his fifth foul on the rebound. Desert Hills missed the free throw, but got the offensive rebound after the free throw hung on the rim. Mathews was then fouled with 28.6 seconds left.
“My brother (Quincy Mathews, who plays for Dixie State) told me this game was going to come right down to the end and to just breath and make shots,” Jacob Mathews said. “That’s what I did.”
He made both free throws to set up the final epic moments and Porter’s big block.
Along with Hokanson’s 18 points, Clayton finished with 12 and Mathews had 10 for Desert Hills, which improved to 14-4 overall and 4-1 in region play, good enough for second place. The Thunder were 6 of 16 from deep and forced 17 Pine View turnovers.
For the Panthers, Hendrickson led the way with 16 points. Farrer had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Pine View, 13-4 and 3-2, only shot three free throws in the game, making them all. The Panthers outrebounded DH 29-19, but had six more turnovers and five more fouls.
Desert Hills plays plays at Cedar Friday night, while Pine View will battle Snow Canyon at its Jungle gymnasium.
Dixie 63, Cedar 49
Anyone who knows Region 9 basketball knows about the Nielson family and what those brothers have been able to do over the years for Cedar High basketball. The latest Nielson, Keenan, is just like his brothers in that he has the ability to light up the scoreboard at any given moment.
So when the Cedar senior started the first quarter at Dixie Wednesday night with two 3-pointers and 12 points, Flyers coach Ryan Cuff was understandably worried.
“He went off like he can and we knew we had to slow him down or it could be a big night,” Cuff said. “But we did a much better job on him the rest of the night and he cooled off a little bit.”
Once Nielson cooled down, Dixie took over, converting a 17-16 first-quarter deficit into a 35-24 halftime lead. Nielson didn’t score in the second quarter and only had seven points the rest of the game.
“He’s a great player and it’s not like we were playing bad defense against him in the first quarter,” Cuff said. “He just hit some tough shots with a hand in his face. We did some different things defensively and I was happy with the way we played. We know everyone is coming after us and we’re going to get their best game.”
Cedar actually started the second quarter with an Ethan Boetcher 3-pointer to take their biggest lead at 20-16. But Sam Stewart answered at the other end with a trey that helped spark a 19-4 run over the next seven minutes. Kaden Elzy followed with a trey to put Dixie up 22-20, then the senior guard hit another one to make it 25-20.
A Parker Haynie bucket cut it to 25-22, but Dixie pushed the lead to 31-24 just before halftime. Tanner Cuff capped the big quarter with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for the 11-point lead.
Despite the run, the Redmen were plucky in the road game, pulling to within 48-44 on another Boetcher trey to start the fourth quarter. The Flyers answered with baskets by Richard Guymon and Ty Curtis to push it back out to 52-44 and Cedar never got closer than seven after that.
Dixie, now 18-0 overall and 5-0 in region, was led by Guymon’s 14 points and Elzy’s 13. Stewart had nine and Curtis finished with eight as the Flyers shot the ball well (20-42 field goals, 6-13 treys and 17-25 free throws). The Flyers have now won 26 games in-a-row.
“I think we’re doing a good job of focusing on each game, even though it seems like everyone is talking about the winning streak,” said Cuff, whose team won the 3A state title last February. “Obviously, we’ll take the win, but Cedar was scrappy and it’s just another example of how tough this region is. But at the same time, we have a lot of little things to work on to be prepared for the future.”
Cedar, 9-9 overall and 1-4 in region, got 19 from Nielson and 12 each from Haynie and Boetcher. Haynie also had eight rebounds and the Redmen had 15 fouls and 14 turnovers. Cedar plays at home against Desert Hills Friday night.
Stats: Dixie 63, Cedar 49
Hurricane 72, Snow Canyon 57
Most of Snow Canyon’s losses this year have come when they’ve turned the ball over 20 times or more. Most of Hurricane’s losses have come when they’ve shot the ball poorly. Well, the Warriors took better care of the basketball (only 14 turnovers), but could only watch as the Tigers lit it up for 12 3-pointers on 60 percent shooting.
“It was like a 3-point shootout at times tonight, especially in the first half,” said Hurricane coach Todd Langston. “Fortunately, they cooled down a bit and we just kept hitting shots. When we shoot like that, we can compete with anyone in the region.”
That’s two games in a row the suddenly dangerous Tigers have lit it up, led by twin 27-point performances from senior guard Josh Parker. He made five 3-pointers and added five rebounds and three steals.
“Josh is really shooting the ball well right now,” Langston said. “We also got a third scorer in Reagan Marshall. He had a good night and he’s tough to guard because he’s big and can shoot from outside.”
Langston said Marshall is finally starting to get back into game shape after being injured much of the preseason. The coach also touted the effort of Jackson Last, who scored 19 points and had nine assists despite battling the flu. Marshall made four treys and finished with 20 points and Nate Ben and Jared Frehner locked up the middle for Hurricane.
“Those big guys rebounded hard tonight,” Langston said. “They do all the dirty work – rebounding and defense – and don’t get a lot of touches on offense. But they are critical for us.”
Parker and Marshall hit a pair of 3s early to put HHS ahead 8-7. But SC’s Braden Baker nailed back-to-back treys and was fouled on the second. His four-point play gave the Warriors their biggest lead of the night at 14-8.
Parker’s trey to close the quarter pulled Hurricane to within 14-11. He hit another two minutes into the second to cap a 7-2 run and put Hurricane ahead 18-16. It was a run-and-gun second quarter, with Hurricane forging a four- or six-point lead, then SC rallying back to tie it. Joey Robertson’s post move made it 36-36 in the closing seconds of the half, but Last beat the buzzer with a runner to make it a 38-36 lead at halftime for the Tigers.
Last opened the second half with a trey and Parker hit a mid-range jumper and the Tigers finally got a little separation with a 43-36 lead. Kameron Webster brought SC to within 45-43, but the Tigers owned the final four minutes of the third with a 12-3 run. Marshall started the streak with a 3-pointer. Hurricane never let the Warriors get closer than 11 the rest of the game.
The Tigers, 12-7 overall and 2-3 in region, made 23 of 38 shots in the game (an impressive 61 percent) and hit 14 of 17 free throws (82 percent).
Snow Canyon, 6-10 and 0-5, was 19 of 41 from the floor, a decent 46 percent. But the Warriors made just 12 of 24 free throws. Baker led SC with 17 points and Christian Sullivan had 14.
Hurricane is at Dixie Friday while the Warriors host Pine View.
Stats: Hurricane 72, Snow Canyon 57
REGION 9 STANDINGS
Dixie 5-0 (18-0)
Desert Hills 4-1 (14-4)
Pine View 3-2 (13-4)
Hurricane 2-3 (12-7)
Cedar 1-4 (9-9)
Snow Canyon 0-5 (6-10)
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.