ST. GEORGE — The Pine View Panthers started the season off as the defending region champions and the favorite to win the region championship this year. They’ve hit some bumps along the way but beat Snow Canyon 71-56 on Thursday to complete their first two-win week in region play.
“Last game, we had 14 turnovers, win by 20. I bet we had 20 turnovers tonight and we won by 15,” Pine View head coach Ryan Eves said. “They got some good looks in the second half, and we got a little bit lost and lazy, but I liked what we did offensively. We got some easy looks, moved the ball well and finished inside against their big guy which was nice.”
For Snow Canyon, they bounced back from a tough loss against Canyon View with a good effort against a solid Pine View team.
“There were some good things,” Snow Canyon head coach Doug Meacham said. “I felt like our energy and our effort was better than our last game. Against a team that executes as good as they do we had to match our defensive execution and we didn’t. We didn’t talk loud enough on some switches, and when you allow a good team like that to get inside the paint, a majority of their baskets were around the paint, and we just really have to protect it better then what we did tonight.”
The game was tied at 15 after the first quarter, but Pine View broke open an 8-point lead going into halftime. In the third quarter, the Warriors cut the lead to five points and were within striking distance but the Panthers were able to reel it back in and hold on to the lead, eventually getting the win.
The physicality of the Panthers was easily seen during the game and this is something that Meacham brought up as the barrier they weren’t able to break through to get closer than five points.
“I think they were pretty physical with us and to me, that was some older guys pushing around a freshman in the post,” Meacham said. “Sometimes you have to just take what the defense gives you, and I think there were some lessons learned with some of our guys.”
For Pine View, they get two wins in a week for the first time this region season. Eves characterized it as a huge step for his team with Cedar and Dixie coming to Pine View next week.
The Panthers will need to bring a similar effort if they want to compete with two of the best teams in the state. It never seems to get easy in Region 9 play for any team. Eves said the biggest thing for his team will be toughness.
“Toughness. You’ve just got to be tough,” Eves said. “Then we’ve talked about defining toughness, what’s toughness? Getting on the floor, taking a charge, getting a big rebound, boxing out or one more pass to an open guy. Little things but really things that tough players do.”
A mainstay for the Panthers with regards to toughness has been Jared Koller. He puts his hard hat on and goes to work every night for Pine View. He gets big rebounds, finishes around the rim and he does those little things.
He has a style of play that some refer to as an “old man game” because of the way he uses his pivot foot and his pump fakes. He doesn’t have jump out of the gym athleticism, but he makes up for it with his basketball IQ. He’s a player that most love to play with and hate to play against.
“How he finds a way to get some of those shots off, he’s crafty and he probably our smartest player,” Eves said. “You look at him and you go, ‘oh, he can’t play.’ That’s what people say, ‘he’s soft or he’s weak.'”
At the end of the season, no matter what their records are, both Snow Canyon and Pine View will be making the playoffs. When it came to improvements, Meacham touched on his team’s communication on defense while Eves continued to harp toughness.
“I told these guys, right now, If the season were to end today, you’re in the playoffs,” Meacham said. “We want a few more weeks to iron out some things, and Pine View is one of the top five teams in my mind. So if we can use these few weeks to just get a little bit better we’ll hopefully be playing where we need to be.”
While Pine View has had a tough time in region play, they were only one possession shy of three wins this season with all of those games being played on the road. They had a seven-point lead against Dixie with a minute and a half left and lost, then they were back and forth with Desert Hills and Snow Canyon in tight games.
They have shown that they can beat the best, and many still think of them as a top-five team in Class 4A.
“We had a nasty, ugly stint, and I wasn’t really expecting it, but all that matters is how you’re playing going into the playoffs,” Eves said. “A region title is probably two games out now, we’re probably not going to be able to get that like we wanted, so now our goal is to get a home game and finish in the top eight.”
Pine View is at home against Cedar and Dixie next week while Snow Canyon is home against Dixie and Hurricane.
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