LOGAN – A momentary lapse put the Dixie Flyers behind the eight ball and a mad scramble wasn’t enough to make up for it.
Juan Diego went on a 22-9 run in the middle part of the game to grab a 15-point lead early in the third. Dixie’s comeback was valiant, but came up a little short as the Soaring Eagle advanced to the 3A state championship game by beating the Flyers 66-59 Friday night at the Smith Spectrum in Logan.
“When you get down as far as we did, it’s tough,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “I knew we weren’t going to quit, that we were going to come out and do what we’ve done all year. I’m just so proud of them. I know that we ended, not the way that we wanted, but leaving it all out on the floor.”
It was a tight first half, with Dixie leading by as many as six in the first quarter and Juan Diego by as many as 11 in the second quarter. It settled as a 36-26 halftime lead. The Soaring Eagle then opened the second half with five quick points and it was 41-26 with six minutes to go in the third.
It looked like the game was over.
“That’s a great team with some impressive guards who are very quick,” Juan Diego coach Drew Trost said. “We couldn’t really pull the ball out and stall because their guards were too good.”
Dixie started to chip away, mostly through the heroics of Ty Curtis. The guard took on all comers in the lane and converted on basket after basket. He scored eight of Dixie’s 10 points in a 10-0 run to make it 41-36 with 4:10 to go in the third.
“Ty has that killer instinct and that refuse to lose attitude,” Cuff said. “He’s a leader in every way and I’m happy for him and the way he played.”
Curtis made a scoop shot at the third-quarter buzzer to cut it to 46-40, then scored six straight Dixie points to pull the Flyers within 51-46 with 5:45 left in the game.
But despite Curtis’ efforts, Dixie was running out of time. With 4:34 left, Jason Ricketts scored for JD to make it 55-49. That’s when Dixie made its last push.
Kaden Elzy scored a basket and two free throws to make it 55-53 with 3:20 to go. After two free throws by Soaring Eagle sophomore Ignacio Arroyo made it 57-53, Elzy scored again to make it a two-point game. Again, Arroyo scored and again Elzy matched it and it was 59-57 with 1:30 to go and Juan Diego with the ball.
The Soaring Eagle worked the ball around and once again, the young Arroyo went to the line with the lead just two. He hit two more to make it 61-57 with 1:19 to play. After Curtis missed a 3-pointer, the Soaring Eagle iced the game with a Steve Price basket and more free throws by Arroyo.
“We definitely had to hold on to that one,” Trost said. “Fortunately enough, we made our free throws at the end to hang on.”
Arroyo finished with 16 points and made 8 of 9 from the line. Ricketts led Juan Diego with 18 points.
“I was just trying to play big against their big guy,” Ricketts said. “A lot of times he would go to block a shot and that would leave me wide open on the weak side.”
Curtis had an impressive line, with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sam Stewart added 11 points for Dixie. But the Flyers allowed JD to shoot 61 percent in the game. Juan Diego made 25 of 41 shots overall.
Dixie, 23-3, will try to bounce back with a third-place game against Desert Hills Saturday at 10:30 a.m., at Ridgeline High School in Milville. Juan Diego, 22-3, will play region 11 rival Ridgeline in the 3A title game at the Spectrum Arena at 1 p.m.
3A STATE BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Ridgeline 64, Desert Hills 60
Juan Diego 66, Dixie 59
Desert Hills 62, Stansbury 55
Ridgeline 67, Carbon 39
Dixie 48, Canyon View 43
Juan Diego 86, Richfield 59
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