ST. GEORGE — Cedar High broke open a close game with a dominating third quarter Thursday to hand Snow Canyon its first home loss, 56-39, and clinch a spot in the postseason.
The Lady Reds outscored the Warriors 16-2 in the pivotal quarter, which was punctuated by Brooke Shoop’s 3-point shot at the buzzer, turning a five-point halftime lead into an insurmountable 47-28 margin.
Cedar coach Corry Nielsen was stating the obvious when he said, “We played really well in the third quarter,” but he added that his team was “playing hard for Carley Davis,” who was out with a concussion.
The sisters Weaver led the way: Japrix scored game-high 20 points, while Dream had 11 points in addition to game highs in rebounds  and assists .
With the win, and Pine View’s loss to Hurricane on Thursday, Cedar [7-2] is alone at the top of Region 9 and has clinched one of the four postseason berths in the region, Nielsen said.
Pine View, at 6-3, is in second place, and Hurricane is third at 5-3. Desert Hills [4-4] and Snow Canyon [4-5] are next in line, followed by Dixie [2-6], which lost to Canyon View [2-7] on Thursday.
Cedar will be aiming to clinch a home playoff game by finishing in the top two of the region. The Lady Reds have a bye on Feb. 6, which gives them “a chance to rest and recover … we’re dinged up a little,” Nielsen said.
After that, they’ll face Pine View and Hurricane, the teams that handed Cedar its two losses in excruciating fashion – the Panthers came from 5 points down with 15 seconds left in regulation, then won in overtime, while the Tigers hit a buzzer-beater to win. The Lady Reds close the season against Dixie.
“If we can get two of those three, we’ll host [a playoff game],” Nielsen said.
The first round of 4A state playoffs are played at home sites on Feb. 23. The top two Region 9 teams host the third- and fourth-place teams from Region 12, which is in the Logan area. The top two teams from Region 12 host the third- and fourth-place teams from Region 9. The remaining rounds of the state tournament will be played at Utah Valley University.
Meanwhile, Snow Canyon coach Ryan Rarick said his team is facing a “dogfight” to grab a postseason berth.
The Warriors’ next two games are at Canyon View and at Dixie, who are at the bottom of the standings, but Snow Canyon has yet to win an away game in region play. The season finale is home against Hurricane.
Thursday’s third-quarter meltdown against the Lady Reds was nothing new to the Warriors, according to Rarick, who called the quarter “our Achilles heel.” His team scored just two against Hurricane, then allowed Pine View to come back in the third before the Warriors won the game with a fourth-quarter rally.
Rarick also said the disparity in free throws was a key to the game as the Lady Reds went to the line 28 times, making 16, while the Warriors attempted just 8, making 4.
“[Cedar] would rebound our misses and run down the floor and we’d be a step behind them, and that would lead to a lot of fouls on our part,” he said. “We attempted to respond to that by getting back quicker defensively to make them actually operate out of the half-court [offense].
“We tried to attack the basket and get to the line ourselves but we just weren’t very successful at that. I think that’s something we’re still trying to figure out how to do.”
Tylei Jensen led the way for Snow Canyon with 9 points, all in the first half, as well as 4 assists. She got into foul trouble in the second half – picking up her third and fourth fouls within a few seconds of each other – and had to sit. Then she picked up her fifth foul almost immediately after getting back in the game with about five minutes to go.
Brielle Hoskins added 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Rarick said his team’s success down the stretch won’t be so much a matter of fixing a glaring weakness, but consistently taking care of the details.
“With our skill level, we’re capable of doing a lot more. I told the girls after the game, it’s just a lot of little things we’ve got to be better at – it isn’t any one big thing that will be a magic cure for our team – holding a box-out for a split second longer, being in help side a split second quicker; that’s the difference between getting a rebound and a jump ball, or getting a foul called on them versus not getting the rebound, or stopping the ball penetration earlier … .
“We show flashes of greatness, but we need consistency.”
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