ST. GEORGE — After letting their first region game slip away against Pine View, the Desert Hills Thunder returned to action on Friday night against Salem Hills. This game looked similar to the Pine View game in that the Thunder were up by seven at the half and were controlling the game, but still fell short, 66-63.
“Similar to Pine View, fast start, kind of a poor second quarter and then it’s a dog fight,” head coach Wade Turley said. “Didn’t shoot the ball as well, didn’t share the ball as well, we had to many turnovers but I did see the kids have heart. They kept playing, they fought back and gave them a chance to win there at the end. There are some positives there, we didn’t shoot the ball great tonight, but we have to take care of the basketball better. That’s the bottom line.”
Those turnovers hurt Desert Hills late in their previous game against Pine View, which ultimately ended with a Ryan Hopper floater that won the game for the Panthers. With a young roster and only four seniors, It’ll be key for the Thunder to learn how to close out games.
“We just have to play smarter and be more patient at times,” Turley said. “We got down and then we took some bad shots that kind of fed their run. This is a young team, I’ve got four juniors that start, so we still have a lot of growing and learning to do but I do like how they play hard. We’ve just got to get better every game, every practice, and I think we’ll be there in the end.”
Salem Hills’ size down low is what fueled their second-half run. They were able to get easy buckets inside and attack rebounds due to the lack of size on the Desert Hills roster. Turley said that starting center Keegan Munson should be returning from injury as early as next week, and he will give the Thunder a much needed boost down low.
One player who has been excelling for the Thunder is Mason Chase. He continues to stand out every game and it’s not only on offense. He had some great blocks in traffic and some big rebounds as well. With his length, he also gets deflections and wreaks havoc on passing lanes for opposing teams. His success and leadership will be big for Desert Hills going forward. Chase had 19 points on the night.
“It’s nice to have a guy, kind of a go to guy, who you can go to in times of need,” Turley said. “I’m excited to see that he’s wanting to be a better all around player, defensively, rebounding, pushing the ball in transition, he wants to be an all around basketball player. He’s got the most experience of anybody on our team so kids look to him naturally for leadership and he’s doing a good job with that.”
Reggie Newby contributed 15 points while Peyton Holmes had 17 against Salem Hills.
The Thunder play Tooele on Saturday, who are coming off of a blowout loss to Dixie on Friday. They then follow that up with their second region game against Hurricane. The Tigers are a versatile team and should be a good matchup for the Thunder.
“Hurricane is a great team. We just have to improve on finishing, making the right basketball decision and taking care of the basketball. That’s key,” Turley said. “I know these guys will fight and scratch and claw, we just have to be smarter basketball players.”
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