ST. GEORGE — The Pine View Panthers came into their game against Crimson Cliffs having lost four of their last six region games. To flip the script, the Mustangs swept their games last week and won four out of their last five region games including a win against Desert Hills, Hurricane and Snow Canyon. The two teams faced off for the second time after Pine View won the first game by 14 points.
Pine View started the game off hot, jumping out to a 19-2 lead after the first quarter. They kept pushing, expanding the lead to 22 going into the fourth quarter and the Panthers eventually won 68-48.
“Just playing hard,” Pine View head coach Ryan Eves said of his team’s play. “I thought defensively we were great. They missed some shots they normally hit, but I thought we did a great job of sticking to the game plan, knowing where Trei (Rockhill) was, limiting his touches and rebounding the ball well. We got easy buckets when we had a chance, took advantage of a little size advantage.”
The Panthers certainly came ready to play and the Mustangs had a hard time recovering after a tough first quarter.
“That’s what we were just telling the guys. They came ready to play, they were mentally locked in and they came out and jumped all over us,” Crimson Cliffs head coach Kasey Winter said. “We knew they would be ready to play and we weren’t. We dug ourselves a huge hole to begin with and we never really got any momentum to cut into the lead in the first half. It kind of just stayed that way in the second half.”
A big part of the defensive effort for Pine View was their ability to switch every ball screen or exchange one through five. This seemed to shock Crimson a little bit and they had some trouble getting open in their offense on the perimeter.
Add that in with the Mustangs inability to hit shots and you have a 20 point loss. When shots don’t fall for Crimson Cliffs, they tend to rush and force some shots. When they work the ball inside and out, they find themselves open much more often.
“We just started looking for the deep ball again,” Winters said. “We really emphasized getting the ball inside thinking we’d have Jackson, Cole and Bowen who are about the same size. We thought we’d be able to get the ball inside and hopefully get their guys in foul trouble, get them off the boards and things like that but it didn’t work out that way.”
For Pine View, we have seen the good and the bad, but what is the difference between the team we saw on Tuesday night and the team that hasn’t been able to pull out tight games?
“To me, I think we play a lot more relaxed when we have the lead,” Eves said. “It’s just execution, and when you’re up 10 points it’s easier to play relaxed, move the ball and get easy buckets. When it’s a tight game like we’ve seen three out of our four losses. We’ve got to buckle down, we’ve got to take care of the ball and we’ve got to still look to attack a little bit.”
The Pine View offense looked stellar against Crimson Cliffs. Jared Sudweeks had 14 points but Taiven Shepard was the big difference for the Panthers. He finished the night with 18 points but was finishing everything around the rim. His presence down low occupied defenders and opened up other options for his teammates.
“A little confidence for him, he works his butt off,” Eves said. “Sometimes he rushes a little bit but when he slows down, he’s a good player.”
For Crimson Cliffs, they have a tough road ahead as they travel to Dixie on Thursday night. The Mustangs are going to have to come ready to play every night in Region 9, and that is going to be the focus going forward for them.
“That’s what we told the guys. There’s not a night off, and when you do take a night off this is what happens,” Winters said. “We have the best team in the region at their place on Thursday so we’ve got to flip that switch and be ready to go. We still think we’re right there, we can compete, we can win some games and keep ourselves in a good position not only in the region but in the RPI as well. We’ve got to come with a better mentality and a better effort.”
Pine View looks to avenge their road loss to Snow Canyon at home on Thursday against the Warriors.
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