ST. GEORGE — On Friday night, the Snow Canyon Warriors hosted the Dixie Flyers to end the first full slate of Region 9 games. A late push was not enough for Dixie as Snow Canyon held on to get the win 53-50.
Snow Canyon jumped out to a nine-point lead after the first quarter, holding the Flyers to only one made from the field and three points. The Warriors were up by 10 at the half, but the second half was a different story. Dixie’s offense exploded for a 23-point third quarter to tie the game headed into the fourth before Snow Canyon was able to hold on for the victory.
“Super physical in the first half, both ways,” Snow Canyon head coach Dan Roden said. “I thought our defense was pretty good, they missed some shots which contributed to it, and it got them frustrated. I was pleased that we got them out of their zone, they usually stick in that 1-2-2 but we did some good things to get them out of their zone. We could’ve handled their man a lot better. The first half was just super physical and we did some good stuff and got out to a big lead, thank goodness.”
Snow Canyon’s offense was fueled by their defense in the first half, but coming into the second half the Flyers made some adjustments. They moved away from their usual zone defense and started playing man-to-man defense. With the change in defense, the Flyers started to get up the floor in transition, trying to speed the game up. They did just that.
“Typically, we have success with our zone but Snow Canyon did a good enough job obviously and we couldn’t find a rhythm offensively,” Flyers head coach Ryan Forsey said. “We went man-to-man and really tried to push the tempo. Tried to get up in transition and we were able to kind of sneak in on that a little bit, I don’t think they expected us to go as fast as we did.”
The Warriors had a hard time getting back on defense late in the game, allowing Dixie to get some easy opportunities. Another big factor in the second half was Tylei Jensen’s foul trouble. She was stuck at three points for a while, eventually getting her fourth. She said it is something she has been battling since her freshman year.
“She’s so competitive, she’s so intense and she works so dang hard that sometimes it works against her and she gets silly fouls,” Roden said. “She’s getting better at that and she’s learning. She’s just got to be a little smarter but she drives the bus. She makes things go.”
It’s a never-ending cycle for basketball players. You want to make a play on that ball or you want to try and block a shot, but in the moment you don’t realize that you have three fouls late in the game. She was the leading scorer on the night with 18 points, and was a huge key on offense for the Warriors.
“It’s hard because I feel like sometimes when I do get in foul trouble I let my team down,” Jensen said.
She was able to stay in the game and not foul out, but while Roden had her on the bench, Olivia Harris had some big buckets. Roden mentioned that in previous years, the Warriors might have buckled under the pressure of an opposing team’s run but they have done a good job combating that this year. The Warriors have held off a couple teams after late runs including Box Elder, Juan Diego and now Dixie. Jensen attributed it to a change in mentality.
“Knowing that things are going to go wrong and teams are going to make shots but we just got to keep sticking with what we know,” Jensen said.
For Dixie, the one positive was the fight they showed. After the offensive struggles in the first half, the Flyers stuck with it and made it a game. They even took the lead a number of times.
“Obviously you’re pleased, you’re happy with the results, but I’m more proud of the heart and the fact that they fought as hard as they did,” Forsey said. “You look on the flip side, if we miss all those shots and still lose by 20 you saw what you’re team was made of and that’s what this region is about. It’s a tough region, you’re going to win some and lose some. You see that from your team and you build on it.”
Snow Canyon rebounded after losing their first game of the season to Pine View on Wednesday. When asked about the response on Friday, Roden said that it was funny because the Warriors had their worst practice of the year on Thursday. That changed come game time.
“We just have to keep that intensity all the way through,” Roden said. “The fact that we got this one after the loss, it’s going to help them in the future to know that they can comeback.”
Dixie plays at Pine View to start next week and then they are home against Hurricane. The Warriors, on the other hand, are on the road for the next two weeks and take on Hurricane and Desert Hills next week.
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