Region 9 boys basketball: The rematch between Desert Hills and Pine View did not disappoint

ST. GEORGE — In the very first Region 9 game of the season, Pine View was able to steal a win from Desert Hills at home thanks to a Ryan Hopper game-winning floater. The second meeting looked similar to the first game, but with a different result as the Thunder got the home win, 59-56.

Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2020 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I thought last time, we played just as hard but we didn’t execute down the stretch, this game was just the opposite,” Desert Hills head coach Wade Turley said. “I think the kids through the season have learned their weaknesses and improved on them. Just the will to win tonight, both teams were battling, scrapping and I give them a lot of credit. They wanted that win bad and so did we so it was a great ball game.”

Desert Hills came out of the locker room with a spark to start the game. At the end of the first quarter, they were up 16-8 and the energy in the gym was electric.

Pine View responded quickly with a run of their own, outscoring the Thunder 16-4 in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime.

The third quarter went back and forth, but Desert Hills took the lead going into the fourth quarter and the tension was building.

Pine View built up a five-point lead in the fourth quarter behind some great plays from Jared Koller and Michael Moore, but the Thunder stayed in it.

The momentum shifted when Mason Chase threw down a massive baseline dunk that cut the lead to one point.

“I was thinking, he’s either going to lay it in or kick it to the corner but he rose up and threw it down,” Turley said of the play. “He’s got some springs. I think that was big, it got our crowd into it obviously and I think he cut it to two then. It got us right back into it and got the momentum from the crowd, that was big.”

Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2020 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News / Cedar City News

With under two minutes left in the game, Pine View was up by two when Desert Hills got a big bucket to tie it up. When Pine View got the ball back, they tried to run the clock down so they could possibly get the final shot of the game, but they ended up turning the ball over and Desert Hills had it with under a minute to go.

The Thunder drained the clock down and Peyton Holmes got a clean look at a three-point basket with three seconds left on the clock. He hit the shot and Desert Hills was now up by 3.

“I had two terrible games the last two games,” Holmes said. “Just kept working, doing the same thing, and it paid off. We did the same play before and I was supposed to back cut it and they double teamed, I popped, went around the screen and pulled up.”

Turley said that he could see Holmes had some confidence and he was encouraging him to shoot the ball the entire night. It paid off for the Thunder.

The biggest change for the Thunder came in the second half when Turley decided to go with a smaller lineup, taking Keegan Munson out of the game. Munson has been a big part of the Thunder as of late but the move worked out.

“We wanted to go small ball,” Turley said. “I thought Jace (Mortensen) did a terrific job with his quickness and athleticism. We wanted to get up and down a little bit because their bench isn’t quite as deep so maybe fatigue had something to do with that down the stretch. I just went small ball and we’ve had pretty good success at times with that lineup.”

Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2020 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News / Cedar City News

Another player that had a big night for the Thunder was Justin Judkins. He seemed to do all of the little things throughout the night. Whether it be making the right pass, driving into the lane and finding an open teammate or grabbing a big rebound, he did it all.

“He’s probably one of our smartest players, I’m sure that’s partly because he is a coach’s son and has been around the game all his life,” Turley said of Judkins. “He understands the game and he does a lot of little things to help our team be successful for sure.”

This win could act as a kick-start for the rest of the Thunder’s season. Desert Hills has dug itself a little bit of a hole, but it’s nothing that they can’t recover from. They’re looking to play their best basketball in the second half and get into the top eight of the RPI ranking.

“If we can do that, then you’re guaranteed a bye in the first round and a home game in the second,” Turley said. “That’s what we’re shooting for and we’ll see what happens … You can’t look past anyone in this region. Obviously, the parity here is unbelievable.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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