Desert Hills' Logan Hokanson (23), Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3A State Boys Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 23, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
LOGAN – Desert Hills survived and advanced Thursday morning with a 62-55 victory over Stansbury in the 3A quarterfinals at Utah State University. But it was anything but easy.
“It’s the state tournament and they want to win as bad as we do,” said Thunder guard Jacob Mathews. “We didn’t rebound the ball very well and our defense wasn’t great, but we did what we had to do.”
Desert Hills actually never trailed in the game, but the third-seeded Stallions also never let the Thunder put the game away. In fact, Stansbury had trailed 33-21 late in the first half after Logan Hokanson hit his fourth 3-pointer, but finished the last 3 1/2 minutes on a 9-3 run to close within 36-30.
Stansbury then opened the third quarter on a 7-3 run to pull within 39-37 with 3:33 left in the third.
“I could tell the guys were getting a little tense, a little worried,” DH coach Wade Turley said. “The main thing is we won and we advance. We shot the ball better and I thought the guys settled down late in the game. We made free throws and that’s how I could tell that they had settled down.”
Desert Hills pushed the lead back out to 53-46 with 4:45 left in the game, but the Stallions refused to go away. Josh Jenkins converted on a three-point play to cut it to 53-49. After a DH bucket by Cam Clayton, the Stallions scored on a three-point play again, this time Jase Wanless converting on the fast break, making it 55-52 with 2:46 left in the game.
The Thunder then spread the floor out on offense and Stansbury was forced to foul. Over the final two minutes, Desert Hills made 7 of 9 free throws to finally secure the victory.
“They played us tough,” Hokanson said. “We shot the ball pretty well. I got in a little bit of a zone in the first half, where it felt like the basket just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Hokanson finished with a game-high 21 points, while Braxton Porter (15 points) made three 3-pointers and made four straight free throws in the last 30 seconds.
It was snowy and frigid outside the Smith Spectrum, but both teams were plenty warm to start the game. Hokanson made his first two 3-pointers to start the game as part of a 20-point first quarter for the Thunder. But the lead was only 20-15 as Jenkins and Wanless kept the Stallions close.
“We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half, especially,” Turley said. “We’ve been better at that lately, but not so much today. Our defense was not great today, either. We’re the best defensive team in our region and I look up at the scoreboard at halftime and we’d given up 30 points.”
DH made 9 of 23 3-pointers in the game, and actually ended up winning the battle of the boards, 27-26. But the Stallions had eight offensive boards and scored 38 points in the paint. Casey Roberts led Stansbury with 14 points.
Mathews ended up with nine points and four assists. Hokanson also had four assists, while Tanner Turley had nine points and three steals. Turnovers were a big factor in the game. Stansbury had 14 in the first half, leading to 11 points off turnover for Desert Hills.
The Thunder, 21-4, qualify for the 3A semifinals with the win and will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday night against Ridgeline (19-4), which defeated Carbon in the quarterfinals.