ST. GEORGE — The Thunder lost four of their last five games by a combined seven points. That changed Thursday night as Desert Hills played their first game of the three-day Coach Walker classic at Dixie State.
Logan, who made the trip from up north, played a good first half, but a huge offensive output for Desert Hills allowed them to extend their lead. The Thunder ultimately won by 21 on the first day of the tournament.
“I think it was a step forward for our team collectively,” the Thunder’s head coach Wade Turley said. “To get Keegan (Munson) back, I felt like he was a little more in sync. Our whole team was a little bit more in sync having him back. I liked how the kids shared the basketball and rebounded a lot better tonight.”
It was a two-point game at the end of the first quarter in favor of Desert Hills. Jadin Penigar was keeping the Grizzlies afloat with 11 of Logan’s 14 total points. His output dropped off after the first, but Desert Hills couldn’t take advantage, leading by three at the half.
The second half was a completely different story. The Desert Hills offense woke up, outscoring Logan 22 to 8 in the third quarter and 15 to 11 in the fourth quarter. Logan could not get a stop on defense, and as the pace of the game rose, it better suited the Thunder.
“I think we’re best when we’re running the floor, up and down the floor, so I told the kids we were going to play our style,” Turley said. “Our personality is to get up and down.”
Before the first half finished Desert Hills moved into a zone, which gave Logan some trouble. They didn’t keep that going in the second half, switching back to a man-to-man defense. They locked up on defense and that was the biggest factor in making the game a 21-point win.
The full court pressure from Logan was consistent and Desert Hills had proven to not do well against the pressure against Pine View. They handled it much better tonight, finding easy ways to break the press and limiting turnovers.
“Most of the time we did,” Turley said of his team’s success against the zone. “I’d still like us to clean up a few things but one of the things we talked about was that we couldn’t be too passive. We need to attack the press and I think the kids did a better job of that tonight.”
Mason Chase led the way with 18 points for the Thunder, 16 of those 18 coming in the second half. Peyton Holmes had 19 points on the night and Keegan Munson contributed 10 points.
“Mason had really good energy tonight, so I was excited to see that,” Turley said. “He played with a purpose. Payton has just been consistent. I’ve been really pleased with him and his leadership. He’s growing every day and doing a great job as our point guards.”
With those four close losses against good teams, the only way to go is up for the Thunder.
“We’ve learned how to lose by one and two points, now we’ve got to figure out how to win those,” Turley said.
The Thunder still have a full slate of games for the weekend, with Friday and Saturday, but Turley is looking forward to the upcoming moratorium and the break for Christmas. His players will recharge, but he will be doing the same.
“I’m trying to recharge myself, just spending some time with the wife and family,” Turley said. “It’s been a pretty hectic month so far so it’ll be nice.”
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.