Desert Hills, Snow Canyon, Cedar win on opening night of Region 9 girls basketball

Snow Canyon's Tylei Jensen drives into the heart of Canyon View's defense in the Warriors' 73-53 win over the visiting Falcons, Dec. 18, 2018, in St. George, Utah. It was one of three games played on opening night of Region 9 girls basketball. | Photo by David Larson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Region 9 girls basketball regular season got underway Tuesday night, with Desert Hills eking out an overtime win at Hurricane, Cedar picking up a road win at Dixie, and Snow Canyon getting a big home win over Canyon View.

Desert Hills 45, Hurricane 42 (OT)

Desert Hills guard Rachel Myers scored five of her team’s six points in the overtime period, including the game-winning layup with two seconds left, as the Lady Thunder edged Hurricane at Hurricane, 45-42.

The Lady Tigers had gotten off to a slow start, trailing 11-3 at the end of the first quarter. Their offensive woes continued during the second and third quarters, as Desert Hills led 31-21 at the start of the fourth period.

The Tigers then mounted a comeback, outscoring Desert Hills 11-1 over the next few minutes. Hurricane guard Madi Hirschi hit a 3-pointer to tie the game 32-32 with 3:15 remaining, but Desert Hills converted a free throw shortly thereafter to pull back ahead by one.

Two minutes later, with 1:13 left in regulation, Desert Hills had built a four-point lead, 38-34, but an inside shot by Kandalyn Hinton cut the deficit to two points, 38-36, with exactly one minute on the clock.

Hurricane’s Madi Hirschi hits a 3-pointer to tie the score late in the game against Desert Hills, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

With 28 seconds remaining, Katelyn Philips hit one of two free throws, pushing the Lady Thunder’s lead back up to three, 39-36. But Hirschi then buried another 3-pointer to tie the game once again with about 19 seconds left.

Deadlocked at 39-39, Desert Hills set up for one last shot, but missed, sending the game into a five-minute overtime.

The Tigers scored first in the OT period, as guard Kenzie Robinson drove inside and scored on a layup, getting fouled in the process. She converted the free throw, giving the Lady Tigers their first lead of the game, 42-39, with 3:30 left.

That would be their last points of the game, however, as Desert Hills ended the game on a 6-0 run. The Lady Thunder tied the game again with a free throw by Philips, followed shortly afterward by a basket by Myers that made it 42-42 with just under two minutes remaining.

Hurricane’s Hailey Homer drives toward the basket while being guarded by Julia Jacobsen of Desert Hills, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Hurricane senior Hailey Homer got fouled on the Lady Tigers’ next possession, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, so the Thunder regained possession.

After calling time out with 14 seconds left, Desert Hills set up what proved to be the game winner, as Myers was able to break to the basket and score a layup with two seconds left to give the Thunder a 44-42 lead. Hurricane was unable to inbound the ball after that, and Myers got fouled, accounting for one more point on a free throw just before the final buzzer sounded.

Desert Hills head coach Ron Denos said although Hurricane’s fourth-quarter comeback proved worrisome, he told his team to stay focused on defense.

“I got a little worried because the momentum just switched, and so we were on our heels,” Denos said afterward. “But we talked about what got us there at the beginning, and that’s our defense and that’s what kind of narrowed it down for us.”

Hurricane’s Kailee Yardley converts a free throw during the fourth quarter against Desert Hills, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Even when Hurricane went ahead by three in overtime, Denos said he knew defense would ultimately be the key to winning.

“They came out and had a three-point play, but I told the girls, just stay with it. The defense is what’s going to win the game for us. And it did, and I think it is because of our defense tonight that we won the game.”

Myers led the Lady Thunder with 11 points, while Julia Jacobsen added 10. Desert Hills converted just 9-of-19 free throw attempts during the contest.

“If we were to hit our foul shots, we wouldn’t have been in that position anyway,” Denos said.

Hurricane was paced by Hirschi’s 13 points, while Homer added nine.

Hurricane head coach Franci Homer praised her team for coming back and nearly winning at the end, despite their slow start.

“We really started out slow in the first half, lots of turnovers and not rebounding,” she said. “We had a fantastic fourth quarter, and my girls played with a lot of heart. We just didn’t have enough to finish the game.”

Written by Jeff Richards

Snow Canyon 73, Canyon View 53

The Lady Warriors ran out to a 22-13 lead in the opening quarter and never looked back, eventually handing the visiting Canyon View Falcons a 73-53 loss.

Canyon View’s Harlee Nicoll has a hard time getting off a shot inside against Snow Canyon’s defense, St. George, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by David Larson, St. George News

“We’re happy to start region play off with a victory,” Snow Canyon head coach Ryan Rarick told St. George News after the game. “We were able to apply enough pressure early on to create a double-digit lead for most of the first quarter and then steadily extend that lead through the halfway point of the fourth.”

Snow Canyon’s two starting guards combined for 45 of the team’s 73 points, the coach noted.

“Tylei Jensen does not ever quit. She scored 27 points tonight, but also fought for rebounds, steals, and continually looked for open teammates,” Rarick said. “She is one of the most tenacious people I have ever met and she shows that tenacity on the basketball court.”

Also putting up big numbers was Jensen’s fellow guard Olivia Harris, who finished with 18 points.

“Olivia’s ability to shoot from the outside opened lanes for Tylei’s penetration, and vice-versa,” Rarick said. “ Olivia also got in on the act as an attacker, and when she does that, we’re a pretty deadly team.”

Rarick also had high praise for the rebounding and defensive efforts of Hallie Remund, along with the play of Rachel Durante, who scored 10 points and anchored the team’s press defense.

Canyon View was led by senior guard Jordan Nielson’s 17 points, while Harlee Nicoll added 16 points and grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds.

Written by Jeff Richards

Cedar 48, Dixie 34

In the Region 9 opener for both teams, Cedar High School defeated Dixie at the Hangar to start off region play with a win.

Cedar guard Logann Laws during season opener at Dixie, St. George, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“It was a tough fame, but anytime you can start region play with a win and do it on the road against a good team, it means a lot, said Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen.

Cedar led from start to finish, but the Flyers cut the lead to five in the fourth quarter. However, the Lady Reds, behind some big baskets from junior Denim Henkel, held on for the win.

“She played really well,” Nielsen said of Henkel. “When the game got close she was able to make some big shots to help us pull away down the stretch.”

Mayci Torgerson added 14 points in the Lady Reds’ win.

Up next, Cedar will travel to Richfield on Thursday before co-hosting the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic Dec. 27-29. After the holiday break, the Lady Reds will resume Region 9 play on Jan. 3 against Desert Hills.

Dixie will also take part in the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic before traveling to Snow Canyon on Jan. 8.

Written by Spencer Rodak

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