Snow Canyon boys basketball is hitting their stride at the right time

ST. GEORGE — Snow Canyon boys basketball came back from the Region 9 winter break and beat Pine View at home.

Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Feb. 11, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

The win opened some eyes and had people thinking about what the Warriors could do this season. After that win, they lost eight straight, including a tough loss to Canyon View, but they have bounced back with wins against Hurricane and Desert Hills. The Warriors are hitting their stride at the right time and they will be a tough out in the state tournament for whoever they take on.

That loss to Canyon View proved to be a turning point for the Warriors. After that game, Snow Canyon had a tough loss against Pine View and a nine-point loss against the top team in the region, the Dixie Flyers.

“It’s big time,” Warner said after the Warriors win over Desert Hills. “It’s just about staying together as a team down the stretch and we had a decision after we lost to Canyon View, we either come together or go our separate ways, and we decided to come together.”

Even before that loss, the Warriors had played in some good games. They lost to Dixie by eight, held Hurricane to 44 points in a loss and kept Cedar within range for most of the game. They have competed against the best teams in the region, not forgetting that Region 9 basketball is nothing to look past.

The thing that changed for the Warriors on Tuesday night against Desert Hills was their defense.

Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Feb. 11, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

“That’s just the thing you can control,” Warriors head coach Doug Meacham said. “Refs are going to swallow their whistle a lot of times down the stretch, and you’ve got to be physically tough, and you’ve got to play drives because everyone is trying to get to the free throw line. That’s where if you have everybody’s eyes on the ball you can be a pretty good team on defense.”

Warner said their practices have been locked in on defense and their last two games have shown it. They held Hurricane to just 42 points and then came back with a great defensive performance against Desert Hills. The Warriors’ defensive rotations were on point, and they were flying around the court on the defensive end.

“It’s shown in the games when we rededicate ourselves to the defensive end of the floor,” Warner said.

They are beginning to see some success. Meacham told St. George News at the beginning of the year that he was focused on playing their best basketball come playoff time.

“That’s what is so fun about this group,” Meacham said. “I think they are starting to see some success with the work they put in. It’s each guy not doing it on their own.”

The biggest thing Meacham pointed out as an improvement throughout the season was being controlled in the paint. Using a jump stop and not rushing to jump pass or make decisions that lead to turnovers.

“Lincoln had a jump stop in the paint and kick to Lyman, and early in the year we were trying to shoot that shot or throw it on the run,” Meacham said. “We still do it but just being under control and poised in the paint.”

They will be a tough matchup for whoever they play in the postseason. If their defense continues to perform at a high level, then that combined with their size and depth will produce a hefty opponent to face in a higher seed.

Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Feb. 11, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

Lyman Simmons, just a freshman, has been a huge part of the Warriors this season. His ability to block shots and protect the rim has been great along with his rebounding and scoring around the rim. Even after all of this, he is still only a freshman.

“In some of those games that we lost, he’s a freshman still trying to learn not to worry so much about his guy but to play the ball,” Meacham said of his defense. “He’s starting to figure those things out.”

When asked about the season coming to an end and the playoffs on the horizon, Warner said when the Warriors play together as a team with everyone involved they are “dangerous.”

“It’s a good feeling because we’re starting to gain momentum,” Warner said of their back-to-back wins. “It feels like we’re starting to come together, and we’re starting to play our best basketball. It’s nice at the end of the year. That’s what our goal was from the beginning, to be playing our best basketball.”

While Meacham is more focused on their matchup against Cedar on Thursday, he did focus on his teams mental strength through the final stretch of the season.

“You tell your team the same things at the end of the year in terms of staying focused,” Meacham said. “Everybody’s tired, everybody has injuries, everybody has sickness, and the challenges have been magnified towards the end of the year. This is the mental grind of the season.”

Snow canyon finishes region play on the road against Cedar Thursday night. They will then have to wait till Saturday to see where they will be seeded for the Class 4A state tournament.

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

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