Philips comes up clutch in Thunder’s win over Snow Canyon

The Desert Hills defense, including Madison Clark (10) and Kami Bliss (12), was able to hold Snow Canyon star Tylei Jensen to two field goals in the Thunder's 44-39 win over the visiting Warriors, Jan. 30, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills junior Katelyn Philips scored 12 of the Thunder’s final 14 points Thursday to help erase a six-point deficit and lead her team to a crucial Region 9 win, 44-39, against visiting Snow Canyon.

Desert Hills’ Katelyn Philips goes up for a jumper in the heart of Snow Canyon’s defense. Philips led all scorers with 16 points, fueling the Thunder’s 44-39 win over the Warriors, Jan. 30, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

Over the last 3:30 of the game, Philips hit a layup and 10 of 12 free throws, including two to clinch the game with 8 seconds left after the Warriors had narrowed the gap to one possession, trailing 42-39.

The Region 9 race is nearing the home stretch and a loss would have put Desert Hills three games behind the leaders with just four to play.

As it stands now, Cedar and Pine View are tied at the top with 6-2 records, Hurricane, after a bye Thursday, is 4-3, followed by the Thunder and Warriors, both at 4-4. Dixie (2-5) and Canyon View (1-7) round out the region.

Other than the Thunder’s 19-point fourth quarter, it was a relatively low-scoring game, but Desert Hills coach Ron Denos said that was mostly by design.

“It was such a big game, everybody was trying to make sure we got good looks at the basket. I think that played into it,” he said. “We’ve really been preaching to our girls to have a little more patience and so I think that helped us tonight. They executed some plays when we needed it.”

It was a tightly contested game throughout; neither team led by more than six points and both had their biggest leads in the fourth quarter.

Snow Canyon’s Rachel Durante drives through a gap in the Desert Hills defense, but the Thunder would prevail 44-39 over the Warriors, Jan. 30, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

Snow Canyon led 28-25 going into the final frame, but the Warriors’ Natalie Gunn doubled that lead with a three-point shot from the corner just 39 seconds in.

Philips countered with a drive through the lane for a bucket and a foul, which she converted. She led all scorers in the game with 16 points. After Kellie Nance added a couple of free throws, the Thunder were within one point, at 31-30.

Snow Canyon, however, slowly pulled away over the next few minutes. Tylei Jensen made 1 of 2 from the line and Sammi Johnston hit from inside the lane off a sweet feed from Allie Parr. Johnston added a couple of free throws to put the Warriors up 36-30 with under 4 minutes left in the game.

Jensen, one of the top scorers in the region, was held to 8 points on just two field goals – a three-pointer and a deuce – and 3 of 4 from the line as the Thunder defense was able to largely smother her quick drives into the lane. Hallie Remund led the way for Snow Canyon with 11 points, including a three.

Desert Hills defenders were stingy down the stretch as well, holding the Warriors to just one field goal over the final 4:34 of the game.

Desert Hills’ Kellie Nance tries to drive baseline against Snow Canyon’s Alivia Hinton in the Thunder’s 44-39 win over the Warriors, Jan. 30, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo my Michael Rinker, St. George News

Although the Thunder had an advantage at the free throw line – they hit 17 of 25 versus the Warriors’ 7 of 10 – Denos gave credit to the defense, especially a trap that disrupted Snow Canyon and forced a few turnovers.

“I think us putting a little bit of pressure on them at the end of the game made a difference,” he said.

“We tried to go man most of the game, but I think the girls just wanted it a little bit and put pressure on them and got the job done. It’s just a trap we go on, just a little softer than our normal trap, so just trying to slow them down a little is basically what we’re looking to do.”

Snow Canyon hosts Cedar on Thursday, while Desert Hills has a bye before returning to action Feb. 6 at Pine View.

In other Region 9 action Tuesday, Pine View and Cedar both won.

Region 9 standings
Cedar 6-2, 13-4
Pine View 6-2, 11-3
Hurricane 4-3, 9-8
Snow Canyon 4-4, 8-10
Desert Hills 4-4, 4-12
Dixie 2-5, 8-11
Canyon View 1-7, 4-14

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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