Girls basketball: Lady Thunder can’t catch up after early Dino run

Desert Hills' Morgan Myers (32), Desert Hills vs. Carbon, 3A State Girls Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 23, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

LOGAN – Desert Hills lost its focus for a few minutes in the second quarter Thursday in the state 3A quarterfinals. A few excruciating, frustrating, game-changing minutes.

Carbon used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to seize control of the game and earn itself a trip to the state semifinals with a 59-44 victory over the Lady Thunder at the Smith Spectrum here in Logan.

“It’s not common for a little run like that to decide the outcome of a game, but we gave up that run and never quite recovered,” said Desert Hills coach Ron Denos. “The girls just lost their focus a little bit. We turned the ball over too much and gave up way too many offensive rebounds.”

The game was fierce, and close for the first 12 minutes. DH had led 10-6, with Carbon using a mini-run to take an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Ashley Beckstrand converted a nifty drive in the lane for a three-point play and it was 17-15 Carbon with 5:46 to go in the fist half. Kelsey Sorenson got a steal and basket inside for the Lady Dinos to make it 19-15 and that seemed to awaken Carbon.

Desert Hills vs. Carbon, 3A State Girls Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 23, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

After Blanc’s layup, Dino freshman Jordan Bianco hit back-to-back 3-pointers and it was 25-15 with 2:15 to go in the half. A moment later, Chandelle Nichols wriggled free inside for a basket and Carbon had forged a 27-15 lead with 1:50 left in the second quarter.

“We’ve kind of been that way all year,” Carbon coach Ted Bianco said. “We’re a team of runs. When we play good defense and are active on the defensive end of the floor, we’re a much better basketball team.”

The Dinos also got an unexpected lift from reserve junior Sorenson, who had 17 points (she averages eight) and hit three big 3-pointers.

“I know I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep last night,” Sorenson said. “We do that. We get nervous and then we just come out and play our game. I’ve just been playing this game for a long time and I know that when I’m out there I need to make it count.”

Desert Hills fought back within 29-21 late in the half, but Lindsey Blanc and Sorenson combined on back-to-back 3-pointers and the Dinos held a 35-23 lead at halftime.

The second half was an exercise in futility for Desert Hills. Everything the Thunder tried, Carbon had an answer for. The lead ballooned to 38-24, then DH made a 5-0 run with Beckstrand hitting a trey to cut it to 38-29. Sorenson then led the Dinos on a 7-3 run to make it 45-31 with 2:22 left in the third. Sorenson had a layup and a 3-pointer in the run.

The Thunder would cut the lead under 10 twice in the fourth quarter, but Carbon went on an extraordinary run of  10 straight free throw makes to keep Desert Hills from getting any closer.

Desert Hills’ Ashley Beckstrand (24), Desert Hills vs. Carbon, 3A State Girls Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 23, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

“Their free-throw shooting was big and they’ve done that all year,” Denos said. “They have secured a lot of games with free throws. But we were really frustrated in the second half. We haven’t had a close game in a long time and I don’t think we reacted to the pressure very well. I don’t think it was experience, cause we have some players with a lot of experience. We just didn’t do the things you need to do to win a game.”

The Thunder had 21 turnovers in the game, giving up 21 points off of those turnovers. Carbon also outrebounded D-Hills 32-26, with the Dinos securing 11 offensive boards and converting those to 15 second-chance points.

DH, which had averaged 56 points a game this season, managed just 44 in this game after shooting a woeful 14 for 41 from the floor (34.1 percent) and 2 for 12 from deep (16 percent).

Beckstrand finished with 21 points on 6 for 18 shooting and also had eight turnovers. She did have seven steals and six rebounds. Morgan Myers, who has been a good counterpart to Beckstrand this season, was saddled with foul troubles all game and eventually fouled out with seven points and one assist.

Along with Sorenson’s 17, Blanc added 15 for Carbon. Blanc also had five steals. Carbon shot 41 percent from the floor and made 6 of 13 3-pointers for 46 percent. The Dinos (19-3) advance to the state semifinals Friday and will play Juan Diego in the semifinals at 4:10 p.m. at Utah State University.

Desert Hills, 18-4, got eight points and eight rebounds from Elly Williams. The Thunder will play a consolation game at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Smith Spectrum against Union.

Carbon 59, Desert Hills 44
Juan Diego def. Union

Cedar vs. Richfield
Morgan vs. Grantsville

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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