Boys basketball: Inside game beats outside game as Thunder fall

Desert Hills' Cameron Clayton (11), Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, 3A State Boys Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 24, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

LOGAN – Friday’s semifinal between Ridgeline and Desert Hills was a classic battle between the inside power of the Riverhawks and the outside shooting prowess of the Thunder. This time, inside power won.

Ridgeline rode the broad shoulders of power forward Theron Wallentine to a 64-60 victory over Desert Hills, sending the Hawks into Saturday’s  state championship.

“Sometimes his emotions get the best of him, but tonight we needed all of that,” RHS coach Graydon Buchmiller said. “Without him in the first half, I don’t think we’re having this talk after the game. He really saved our bacon.”

Desert Hills’ Logan Hokanson (23), Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, 3A State Boys Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 24, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Wallentine made 9 of 10 shots in the first half and finished the game with 33 points, more than half of his team’s total.

“I could tell he was heating up and I just kept feeding him the ball,” Ridgeline star point guard Jaxon Brenchley said. “He stepped up big time in this game. He played a great game. We all had to against Desert Hills and we did. The crowd and the energy really helped us.”

The Riverhawks and Thunder were in a dead tie, 56-56, after Logan Hokanson buried a stop-and-pop 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the game. Twenty seconds later, RHS guard Landon Jenson kicked the ball into the corner and sophomore Landon Brenchley (Jaxon’s little brother) buried a 3-pointer to give the Hawks the lead back.

“That was huge,” Buchmiller said. “That’s got to be the biggest shot of his career. It kept the momentum going in our direction and made it a lot tougher for them to come back there that late in the game.”

After Landon Brenchley’s trey, D-Hills missed a jumper and Jaxon Brenchley was fouled on the rebound. He made both free shots to make it 61-56 with 1:18 left in the game.

“We just missed some shots and had a couple of calls late that didn’t go our way,” said Thunder coach Wade Turley. “The guys fought hard and I’m really proud of the effort. They did all that I asked, went out there and competed against a good team.”

Hokanson hit a free throw to cut it to 61-57 with 1:04 to play, but the RiverHawks got a pair of freebies from Wallentine to make it a six-point advantage with 52 seconds left at 63-57. Jenson hit a late free throw to make it 64-57 and a late 3-pointer (five seconds left) by Jacob Mathews rounded out the scoring.

Wallentine, a 6-foot-2 senior, had the kind of game most players only dream about. He averages 12 points a game, but scored 21 of Ridgeline’s 32 first-half points. He even stepped out beyond the arc, making three of the six 3-pointers that he tried.

Desert Hills’ Tanner Turley (33), Desert Hills vs. Ridgeline, 3A State Boys Basketball, Logan, Utah, Feb. 24, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Everything I put up I halfway willed into the hoop,”said Wallentine, who went to Mountain Crest last year before Ridgeline opened. “I don’t know if you can tell, but I like to play with a lot of emotion. Me and my best friend Jaxon, we love to play with emotion and we’re constantly talking and building each other up.”

Wallentine’s final line was 33 points on 13 of 18 shooting, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. No other Ridgeline player scored in double figures, though Jaxon Brenchley had seven points, nine rebounds and five assists.

“Really, (Wallentine) just went off on us,” Turley said. “We knew he was a good player, but we didn’t think he was that good. I thought we did an excellent job on Brenchley, but didn’t expect Wallentine to play so well.”

Desert Hills was pretty good from deep, making 12 3-pointers in the game. The trey got the Thunder a 15-11 lead in the first quarter and Desert Hills hit 5 out of 6 deep balls in the third quarter to turn a 32-28 halftime deficit into a 49-44 lead heading into the fourth period.

“I’m the idiot that stuck with the zone,” Buchmiller said.

But the 3-pointer deserted the Thunder in the fourth quarter. The only two DH was able to convert were Hokanson’s that tied the game at 56 and Mathews’ meaningless one just before the buzzer.

“That’s kind of who we are this year,” Turley said. “We don’t have a real post presence with a big guy, but we’ve been pretty good with the 3. We just couldn’t hit it late in the game.”

Hokanson ended up with 17 points and made three 3s. Mathews had 14 points with four treys and Braxton Porter had 11 points with three 3s. DH was 12 for 30 from deep in the game and 9 for 21 inside the arc.

The Thunder, 21-5, will play in the third-place game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. against rival Dixie at Ridgeline High School. DH has never won 22 games in a season.

Stats: Box Score DHHS (RiHS)-22417

3A STATE BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS 

SEMIFINAL RESULTS
Ridgeline 64, Desert Hills 60
Juan Diego 66, Dixie 59

QUARTERFINAL RESULTS
UPPER BRACKET
Desert Hills 62, Stansbury 55
Ridgeline 67, Carbon 39

LOWER BRACKET
Dixie 48, Canyon View 43
Juan Diego 86, Richfield 59

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

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