Boys basketball: 3 close games, but favorites still win

ST. GEORGE – There have been plenty of one-sided games this season in Region 9 boys basketball, so Friday’s set of three relatively close games was a breath of fresh air.

As recently as last week, there was a 40-point blowout and a couple of 30-point yawners, but hand it to the underdogs on this night as Hurricane went to Dixie and nearly pulled off the upset, Desert Hills needed overtime to squeak out a win at Cedar and Pine View didn’t break the game open with winless Snow Canyon until the fourth quarter.

Here’s a look at Friday’s action:

Dixie 51, Hurricane 48

For three-fourths of this game, the visiting Tigers were the better team. But the defending champs, led by the defense of Ty Curtis and Richard Guymon, surged in the fourth quarter, then held off a late Hurricane rally for their 28th win in a row.

“I’m not going to take anything away from Hurricane at all,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “At times, we didn’t play that well, but I’m not going to take anything away from how hard and how prepared and how good Hurricane’s playing right now. I’m glad we’re done playing them.”

Dixie’s Korbyn Elzy (1), Dixie vs. Hurricane, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Tigers held the normally high-scoring Flyers to four points in the first quarter and 19 total in the first half in forging a 25-19 advantage at intermission. Hurricane’s biggest lead of the game came midway through the third quarter at 34-26 when Nate Ben powered one in off the glass and was fouled for a three-point play.

The Tigers still led 39-33 when the fourth quarter commenced, but things were about to change. Starting with a pair of Guymon free throws, Dixie opened the final stanza with 11 straight points, turning that 39-33 deficit into a 44-39 lead. Between Guymon’s shot blocking in the paint and Curtis’ steal-making on the perimeter, the Tigers didn’t manage a point in the quarter until there was 4:51 left to play. Adam Heyrend broke the drought with a pair of free throws.

But Dixie again surged, with Guymon tipping in an alley oop and Camden Flinders burying a 3-pointer, making it 49-41 with 4:00 on the clock.

Hurricane’s Nate Ben (5), Dixie vs. Hurricane, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It was really frustrating earlier in the game when a lot of those shots that we normally make weren’t going in,” Guymon said. “But coach always tells us to remain calm and just play our game. That first half, we were playing their game.”

The contest had another shift of momentum at that point. Dixie had asked for a timeout, but before it was granted one of the Dixie bench players had gone onto the floor while the ball was still in play. A technical foul was assessed and Josh Parker hit two free throws to make it 49-43. Fifteen seconds later, Reagan Marshall hit a 3-pointer and all of the sudden it was 49-46.

Dixie pulled out its four-corners offense to milk some time off the clock, but after a missed shot, Heyrend sliced through the Dixie offense to make it a 49-48 game with 2:50 left. Dixie again worked the clock before getting Guymon open on the baseline. Hurricane fouled the big man and he made one out of two to put the lead at 50-48 with 1:03 left.

After a Tigers miss, Dixie’s Kaden Elzy was fouled. The senior guard also hit one out of two, leaving the score at 51-48 with 29 seconds on the clock. Hurricane held the ball until there was eight seconds to play, then called a timeout.

After the break, the Tigers tried to get the ball to Parker, but Dixie overplayed him and the ball came in to a tightly-covered Marshall. He handed off to Jackson Last, but the best Last could do was get off a contested 3 from about 23-feet out that was well off the mark.

Dixie’s Sam Stewart (24) and Hurricane’s Josh Parker (21), Dixie vs. Hurricane, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“We knew this was an important game and what a loss would mean,” Curtis said. “We all came together as a team and got it done. We got fired up in the huddle, realizing how important this was. Richard (Guymon) had some big blocks. I’m grateful for him. If I ever get beat, he’s got my back.”

Curtis and Flinders led Dixie with 11 points, with Elzy chipping in 10 and Guymon nine, plus five rebounds and four blocked shots. The Flyers, who made 13 of 17 free throws and forced 15 turnovers, are now 19-0 on the year and have won 28 in-a-row overall. Dixie is 6-0 in region.

Parker and Heyrend had 12 points each for Hurricane, with Last adding seven points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Tigers, who made 6 of 15 3-pointers and outrebounded Dixie 26-23, fell to 12-8 overall and 2-4 in region.

The next action for the two teams is Wednesday night, with first-place Dixie visiting second-place Desert Hills and Hurricane going to Pine View.

Stats: Dixie 51, Hurricane 48

Desert Hills 63, Cedar 59 (F/OT)

At Cedar, Jacob Mathews hit clutch free throws at the end of regulation and at the end of the overtime to help the Thunder come away with the close win.

“We escaped by the skin of our teeth,” DH coach Wade Turley said. “I’m really proud of our kids. We were down by seven with under four minutes to play and the guys showed a lot of heart and composure.”

Braxton Porter started the comeback with a three-point play with 3:40 left in the game that cut the Cedar lead down to 48-44. After a Cedar score, Logan Hokanson made it a one possession game with a 3-pointer and it was 50-47.

Another Cedar turnover led to a foul of Mathews, who hit one free throw to make it 50-48. Redman Parker Haynie scored inside to make it 52-48 as the clock ticked under three minutes, but D-Hills scored the next five points over 2 1/2 minutes, all on free throws, with Cam Clayton hitting two and Mathews hitting three. Mathews’ clutch shooting with 32 seconds left made it 53-52. Haynie was able to draw a foul with 12 seconds to play, but made just one of two to force the extra frame.

Desert Hills’ Jacob Mathews (22), file photo from Desert Hills vs. Juan Diego, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Boys Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

In the OT, the Thunder scored the first five points over two minutes of play to make it 58-53. Mathews hit a big shot in the post in the run. Cedar cut it to 58-55 on a jumper by Keenan Nielson, but Mathews answered just seconds later with a layup to push it back to five at 60-55.

After a Nielson free throw made it 60-56, DH missed a shot and Haynie rebounded. On the ensuing possession, Nielson took it to the hole, scored and was fouled by DH leading scorer Hokanson, his fifth foul. Nielson’s free throw was good, making it a 60-59 game with 25 seconds left.

The Redmen quickly fouled Mathews, who nailed both free throws. At 62-59, a 3-pointer would have tied the game. Unable to get Nielson open, Dallin Peterson tried the deep ball, but the shot was off the mark and Tanner Turley rebounded with one second left. He made one free throw to clinch the win.

“Our shots weren’t falling in the first half and then we started to get a little tentative,” Coach Turley said. “It was one of those games where everything was just kind of rimming out. But Cedar played well. They shot the ball well and made things hard for us on offense.”

Cedar led by seven during the first quarter, but DH had a big second quarter and held a 26-21 halftime lead. The Thunder led by seven early in the third, but the sharp shooting of Ethan Boetcher and Nielson helped pull the Redmen ahead 40-37 heading into the final quarter, setting up DH’s comeback.

Desert Hills. 15-4 overall and 5-1 in region, got 18 points each from Hokanson and Mathews. Hokanson had three treys and five assists, while Mathews was 5 of 6 from the floor and had four steals in the game. Clayton added 14 points and was 3 for 6 from deep.

For Cedar, 9-10 and 1-5, Nielson led the way with 19 points and four rebounds. Haynie added 16 points and eight boards, while Boetcher had 12 points on four made 3-pointers.

The Thunder are home to face Dixie Wednesday night, while Cedar will look for the season sweep against Snow Canyon at CHS Wednesday.

Stats: Box Score CHS (DHHS)-12717

Pine View 56, Snow Canyon 48

At Snow Canyon, Dylan Hendrickson was a beast, posting a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds in the Panthers’ road win.

“He played really well, made some big shots for us, especially in the first half,” PV coach Ryan Eves said. “But for the most part, I thought we played really selfishly in the first half. It wasn’t until we started sharing the ball and playing as a team that we started playing better.”

The Warriors have had their struggles this season, but played Pine View tight in both contests. Snow Canyon actually had a lead in the second quarter after shooters Christian Sullivan and Braden Baker started hitting from outside. The Warriors held that advantage into the halftime locker room, going in ahead 29-27.

Pine View’s Dylan Hendrickson (24), file photo from Pine View vs. Viewmont, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Dec. 16, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

But the Panthers opened the second half on a 10-0 run. Trey Farrer started the run with a putback slam dunk, then blocked a shot at the other end that led to a fast-break layup by Hendrickson. McKay Lambert then buried a 3-pointer and Pine View was off and running.

Snow Canyon was able to pull within 39-36 a minute into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers then got hot. Hendrickson hit a short jumper, then Lambert buried another trey. Moments later, Tayler Tobler hit a 3-pointer and then Hendrickson scored again and it was 49-36. After SC missed the front end of a one-and-one, Lambert struck again from downtown to cap the 13-0 run and make it 52-36 with under four minutes to play.

Snow Canyon would get no closer than seven the rest of the way as the Panthers improved to 14-4 overall and 4-2 in Region 9. Lambert finished with 18 points, including five 3-pointers on eight attempts. He also had seven rebounds and three steals. Farrer had a relatively quiet night with 10 points, seven rebounds and a block.

“Trey struggled a little tonight, but he was in foul trouble the whole game,” Eves said. “Teams know that when he gets in foul trouble, it changes our whole team, our whole game plan. We’re happy with the win. Our goal is still to win region and we know we’re going to have to go 5-0 in the second round to get it done.”

The Panthers host Hurricane Wednesday night, while the Warriors (6-11, 0-6) travel to Iron County to battle the Cedar Redmen.

Stats: Box Scores for Pine View Male @ Snow Canyon Male

REGION 9 BOYS BASKETBALL STANDINGS
Dixie 6-0 (19-0)
Desert Hills 5-1 (15-4)
Pine View 4-2 (14-4)
Hurricane 2-4 (12-8)
Cedar 1-5 (9-10)
Snow Canyon 0-6 (6-11)

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