Girls basketball: DH, Cedar cruise to easy 1st-round wins

Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, Girls Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Desert Hills and Cedar, the top two teams from Region 9, cruised to easy wins in Saturday’s first round of the 3A girls basketball playoffs. The third and fourth seeds from the region, Hurricane and Snow Canyon, both took tough losses on the road in the first round.

The region-champ Lady Thunder blew past Ridgeline behind the shooting and passing of Ashley Beckstrand. And the second-seeded Lady Reds used a balanced effort to cruise to an easy win against Logan.

That will set up quarterfinal games for Desert Hills and Cedar on Thursday at Utah State University’s Spectrum Arena. The Thunder will play Carbon at 4:10 p.m. in the first girls quarterfinal of the day. The Lady Reds will battle Richfield at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s first-round games:

Desert Hills 65, Ridgeline 43

The game started out like a super duel between BYU-bound Beckstrand and RiverHawk star Sophie Wright as the two sharp-shooting guards were bombing away from outside. Both players had two 3-pointers in the first quarter and by halftime, Wright led all scorers with 13 points and Beckstrand had added four rebounds and three assists to go with nine points.

But then the Thunder turned up the defense.

Desert Hills’ Ashley Beckstrand (24), Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, Girls Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“I was very nervous for this game,” DH coach Ron Denos said. “We hadn’t seen them, but we knew they had some very good athletes. Plus, they’re very good shooters. If they catch fire, we knew they’d be tough to stop. They had that little onslaught at the beginning of the game, but I thought we did a much better job on them after that.”

Wright didn’t score again after halftime and the RiverHawks struggled to find someone else to step up. Desert Hills only allowed six points in the third quarter and didn’t allow Ridgeline to score a field goal from the 4:55 mark of the third until the 3:37 mark of the fourth, changing a relatively close 40-31 game into a 56-36 blowout.

“I was actually extremely nervous, too,” said Beckstrand, who finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. “As a one seed, you’re expected to win this game. You could think, ‘Oh, they’re the four seed, we got it.’ But this is the playoffs.”

Desert Hills’ Morgan Myers (32), Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, Girls Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Even though Ridgeline shot the ball pretty well in the first half, the RiverHawks still trailed 37-26 at halftime. Beckstrand scored nine of her 21 before the half and also put on a passing display that included a variety of no-look and behind-the-back passes. Teammates Morgan Myers and Jessica Bills also started to get into a groove.

The RiverHawks actually started the second quarter well enough, with Wright hitting a 3-pointer and Kenedi Christiansen scoring inside to tie the game at 21-21. Desert Hills responded with a 12-0 run, starting with a three-point play by Myers and a basket inside by Elly Williams off a nifty entry pass from Beckstrand.

“Ashley is so important to this team,” Williams said. “She makes such great passes and is great at the drive-and-dish. Along with that, she plays good defense and is always hustling and giving 100 percent.”

Jess Mathis also hit a trey in the run and D-Hills led 33-21 with three minutes to go in the first half. Wright and Bailie Crosbie helped the RiverHawks close to within seven, but the Thunder pushed it out to 37-26 at the half.

Unlike last year, when Desert Hills lost in the tourney’s first round, the Thunder have much more depth and a lot more contributors in the scoring column. Myers finished with 14 points and Williams had 11. Mathis and Megan Wiscombe each scored six points, while Williams and Bills had six rebounds each.

Desert Hills, 17-3, advances to the 3A quarterfinals and will play Carbon, which is 18-3 and beat Stansbury 53-41. Game time Thursday at Utah State is 4:10 p.m.

The RiverHawks, 13-6, were led by Wright and Crosbie, who had 13 points each.

Cedar 56, Logan 33

Cedar shut out the Lady Grizzlies in the first quarter and scored the first 20 points of the basketball game.  If Logan could have pulled off the upset, it would have had a decided home-court advantage for the tournament being held at Utah State. But the Lady Reds erased any hope immediately out of the gate.

“Our girls played great defense,” said Cedar head coach John Elison. “We are third in 3A for that and our goal is to be No. 1 in that category. Our girls played tough. Logan just could not get any good looks. “

At the end of the first quarter, the scoreboard read 18-0.  Logan did not gain much ground in the second quarter. The Lady Reds took a 28-11 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Lady Grizzlies made a bit of a comeback in the third quarter, outscoring Cedar 16-8.  The lead had shrunk to single digits 36-27.

File photo: Cedar’s Carley Davis (25), Desert Hills vs. Cedar, St. George, Utah, Jan. 26, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“At the start of the fourth, I told the girls that they let them back into the game,” said Elison. “I told them to grind it out and play tough defense, one possessions at a time. And the girls did just that. It was a great team effort.”

The Lady Reds scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach, 46-27.  They continued to outplay Logan the remainder of the way and came away with the 23-point win.

As a team, Cedar shot 44 percent from the floor while holding Logan to just 28 percent. The Reds outrebounded the Lady Grizzlies 33-20. Individually for Cedar, Carley Davis led the way with a double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling down 10 rebounds. Dream Weaver scored 11. The Lady Reds had balanced scoring as five other players scored five or more points. For Logan, Mia Marin and Liz Timmerman scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Cedar wins its fifth in-a-row and moves to 17-5. The Lady Reds play Richfield Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at USU.  Logan falls to 9-13 to complete the season

Morgan 59, Hurricane 44

Morgan got up early on the Lady Tigers and continued to pile on. At halftime, the lead had climbed to 32-13.

“We came out and failed to match up right away,” said Hurricane head coach Franci Homer. “That gave them an early lead. We trailed from the start.”

The Lady Tigers flipped the switch defensively in the second half, but the 19-point deficit proved too large to overcome.

“Even though we were down 19, we came out in the second half and played great defense,” said Homer.  “We also made some adjustments on offense. We were able to cut the lead to 10 points, but that was as close as we could get.”

Hurricane, making its first entry into the playoffs in three years, got its first taste of postseason experience as their roster has no seniors.

Individually for Morgan, leading scorer Brookelyn Hurlbut scored 15.  Morgan Cragun pitched in 11. For the Tigers, Madi Hirschi scored 12 points, pulled down three rebounds and dished four assists. Lexy Lyons scored 11 points and had four rebounds. Kylee Stevens had seven points and four assists. Jayden Langford scored six. Hailey Homer had five points and four rebounds.

“The girls never gave up and played with their hearts,” said Coach Homer.  “I am very proud of their efforts and honored to be the coach of these amazing girls.”

Morgan will advance and face Grantsville on Thursday. The Trojans improve to 18-5. Hurricane finishes its season at 12-11.

Juan Diego 48, Snow Canyon 32

With Lindsy McConnell as the sole returning starter for the reigning state champions, Snow Canyon faced a monumental task in the first round, battling Juan Diego, a team stacked with senior leadership that made it to the quarterfinals in last year’s tournament. Juan Diego forced SCHS into 25 turnovers and ended the Lady Warriors bid for a repeat.

“We struggled with turnovers in the first half – we committed 17,” SC assistant coach Ryan Rarick said. “That caused some problems with giving up transition points and not getting any of our own. Rebounding was another big problem as Juan Diego shot a lot of 3s. They only made 3, but got second and third opportunities and they’re too good of a team to beat when they’re allowed to do that.”

The inexperience showed early as the Soaring Eagle took a 17-5 first-quarter advantage. The Lady Warriors played Juan Diego almost even after that point, but with the double-digit deficit, it was not good enough.

Juan Diego had three players in double figures. Leading scorer Becca Curran led the way with 13 points.  Trista Vawdrey and Brynn Drummond had 11 and 10, respectively. For Snow Canyon, Tylei Jensen scored 11.  Four players scored four or more points.

Juan Diego moves to 15-5 and will face Union in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Snow Canyon ends its season at 11-11.

3A GIRLS BASKETBALL FIRST ROUND RESULTS
Upper bracket

Carbon 53, Stansbury 41
Desert Hills 65, Ridgeline 43
Juan Diego 48, Snow Canyon 32
Union 54, Juab 46
Lower bracket
Cedar 56, Logan 33
Richfield 48, Tooele 30
Grantsville 62, North Sanpete 43
Morgan 59, Hurricane 44

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