ST. GEORGE – The Dixie Flyers must have felt like Logan was that pesky kid brother that just would not go away.
It took a heroic and athletic play by Ty Curtis with two-tenths of a second left for Dixie to finally send the Grizzlies home to mama Friday night. Curtis caught a full-court pass, was fouled and then hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining to help lift the Flyers to a 55-53 win over Logan in the first round of the 3A playoffs at the Hangar gymnasium.
“We knew they’d come in ready to go with a lot of incentive, since the tournament is in their hometown,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “Hats off to them because they came in and played with intensity and we never really could shake them.”
With under 20 seconds left in the game, Tanner Cuff was fouled with the Flyers nursing a 51-50 lead. The coach’s son nailed both free shots to give Dixie a much-needed three-point cushion. Logan then set up a tying shot for Anthony McDade and the sophomore sharp shooter nailed this 35th 3-pointer of the year to tie the game at 53-53 with under five seconds left.
After the trey and a tipped ball, Dixie was able to call a timeout with 1.6 seconds on the clock and the ball deep in their own corner.
“We’ve been practicing this play and we knew we could do it,” Coach Cuff said. “We were nervous because of where the ball was placed. If we throw it too far and it goes out of bounds, Logan would get it right there with a chance to win. But how can you tell your kids not to run something you’ve been practicing? You’ve got to believe.”
Sam Stewart took the ball from the official and heaved it 80 feet to just in front of the Dixie basket, where Curtis made a leaping grab and tried to shoot it. He never got the shot away as Logan’s Cooper Ward and Cody Brimhall collapsed on him, inducing the foul call with just tenths of a second to play.
Curtis then calmly made both free throws to send Dixie to the quarterfinals.
“First of all, Ty Curtis made an incredible play on an outstanding pass by Sam Stewart,” Coach Cuff said. “It’s a play where we run Richard Guymon up the court and actually throw it over him and Curtis just made an amazing catch. And it was the right call by the officials. You know they didn’t want to make a call that late, wanted to let the players decide it, but Ty was just smothered.”
The game was like a day fishing, with Logan trying to keep Dixie on the hook. The Flyers would run out to a seven- or eight-point lead, then the Grizzlies would rally to pull within a point or two. Dixie led by as many as seven in the second quarter, but Logan closed the half with a run to cut it to 24-21 at intermission.
Dixie again pulled up by five, but Brimhall and Jared Bagley hit big shots to make it a 36-35 Dixie lead with eight minutes to go. Kaden Elzy helped keep Dixie ahead with 19 points, despite a nasty flu bug for the senior guard.
It looked like the Flyers had it put away when Tanner Cuff penetrated the lane and lobbed up an alley oop that Guymon violently jammed through the hoop. The dunk made it a 51-44 Dixie lead with 4:44 left. But Ward got a steal and layup as part of a 6-0 run over four minutes of play to set up the wild finish.
“Richard played a heck of a game,” Coach Cuff said. “He dislocated his thumb yesterday in practice and he’s got a bad knee and a sore back, but it’s all good cause he went out there and played his heart out.”
Cuff was also complimentary of Elzy, who hit three 3-pointers and had a handful of assists despite the flu.
“He was kind of weak and lethargic, but he still went out there and gave everything he had,” Cuff said. “And Ty Curtis was just a warrior. He took over the game and made some big plays when we needed it most.”
Guymon finished with 14 points and Curtis hit a huge 3-pointer and had four steals. Dixie, 22-2, moves into the 3A quarterfinals and will play former (and future) Region 9 foe Canyon View Thursday at 12:50 p.m. at Utah State University’s Spectrum Arena.
The Falcons had a much easier time of it in the first round, blitzing Union 71-47.
Canyon View never gave the visiting Cougars a chance, rushing out to a 37-12 lead by halftime. At one point midway through the third quarter, the Falcons led by the amazing score of 60-20.
Brantzen Blackner continued his outstanding junior season. The CV guard, who has averaged 18 points a game this season, scored 22 points and added the impressive line of five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Abe Huxford hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points and big man Porter Miller turned in eight points and nine rebounds as the Falcons improved to 14-10 on the season.
Dixie and Canyon View met once earlier this season, with the Flyers grabbing a 69-53 victory at CVHS. The Falcons played every Region 9 team this season (and Cedar twice), going 2-5 against southern Utah teams. Canyon View then went 6-2 in Region 12 to claim the top seed.
Dixie and Canyon View were both semifinalists in last season’s 3A tournament, with the Falcons losing to Juan Diego by four in the semis and Dixie beating JD by eight in the championship.
3A STATE BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST ROUND
Desert Hills 49, Bear River 41
Stansbury 44, North Sanpete 43
Ridgeline 72, Hurricane 59
Carbon 54, Tooele 46
Dixie 55, Logan 53
Canyon View 71, Union 47
Richfield 53, Grantsville 41
Juan Diego 47, Pine View 42
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