ST. GEORGE — After scoring only four points in the first quarter during their previous matchup at Pine View, the Dixie Flyers made a late push that was not enough against the Panthers.
The second game was much different as the Flyers played on their home court. Pine View went into the locker room up eight at the half and that margin stayed close for the rest of the game, with Pine View winning 54-48.
Sophie Jensen and Averi Papa led the Panthers with 11 points each, while Sina Schwalger had 11 points for the Flyers.
“After losing on Wednesday, it was a big one to get back on our winning ways,” Panthers head coach Ben Luce said. “We haven’t lost two in a row all year so credit the girls for always being ready to bounce back and to beat Dixie on the road is a big deal for us.”
The thing that stood out down the stretch was the Dixie press defense. The Flyers continued to get turnovers as result of that press, but they were unable to convert. They missed a number of easy layups and baskets down the stretch that could have made this game even closer.
Dixie head coach Ryan Forsey said that is how his team has to play. Due to the fact that they lack size, the Flyers have to use their speed and quickness to their advantage.
“We know multiple presses and we put them in at different times, that’s just something we’ve been working on all year,” Forsey said. “The girls were able to do something together tonight about it, which was much better than Snow Canyon. I was much more pleased with our energy.”
For Pine View, this has been a lingering issue. They get pressed consistently by opposing teams but they have had trouble dealing with that pressure.
Pine View tends to get sped up, which then leads to bad passes or the wrong decisions.
“That’s what we’re working on all of the time in practice still,” Luce said. “I don’t think we’ve peaked yet, which is fine with m. We’re waiting to and as soon as we turn that switch, handle the pressure, run the floor in transition and be patient in the press we’re balanced and deep enough that we can play both ways. We just need to learn when to go fast and when not to.”
The Panthers did receive a big boost when Sophie Jensen came back. She was out for about a month with a concussion, but she adds a ball handler to their lineup. With her speed and basketball IQ, the Panthers have been handling the press much better. Jensen said that she saw a lot of things her teammates couldn’t while she was injured and she’s hoping to help them out with that.
She also said that regardless of her injury, she always plays hard. Her intensity won’t decrease and she’s eager to get back into the swing of things. You don’t necessarily want to look at an injury in a good way but the long break gives Jensen a rest. Hopefully that rest helps her come playoff time when other players are worn out.
“My legs were fresh and I was anxious to play again so I definitely had that momentum on my side,” Jensen said. “I was out for a long time but injuries always help in some way so you’ve got to look at the positive.”
When asked about the Flyers’ offensive struggles, Forsey said they can only control what they can control. He wants his team taking high-percentage shots and they are. They just are not falling. It also hurts when your top scorer is being guarded tightly every single game.
“Joslyn (Bundy) is our leading shooter, leading scorer and teams are keying in on her,” Forsey said. “We need girls to step up and when they don’t, everybody else struggles and we don’t have much space or any angles to attack from. It’s constantly a work in progress.”
Both coaches said they are just taking it game by game with the playoffs approaching. That’s all you really can do come the postseason.
Pine View finishes the season at home against Canyon View and Hurricane, while Dixie is at Hurricane then home against Desert Hills.
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