ST. GEORGE — Of the four Region 9 teams left in the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament, only two advanced on to the semifinals on Thursday. Desert Hills blew past Cedar in a blowout win, Hurricane lost a tough game against No. 1 Sky View and Dixie got a commanding victory over Green Canyon to finish off the Region 9 games for the day. Desert Hills will take on Sky View on Friday at 5:50 p.m. while Dixie will play Juan Diego with the game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
No. 12 Desert Hills 74, No. 4 Cedar 51
With the game having a 9:30 a.m. start time, both teams looked a little sleepy to start and their play showed it. Cedar’s offense was stagnant, and they made some bad mistakes early but they were able to clean those up in the second. For Desert Hills, the Thunder controlled the game throughout with help from their supporting cast to win big and move on to the semifinals.
“This was a little unexpected, I thought it’d be another dogfight down to the wire,” Turley said. “We had multiple guys sharing the basketball like we needed to be good, but I think our defense was the difference.”
The Thunder took a 10-6 lead with 3:14 left in the first quarter and then stretched that lead to nine. The reds were not going to go down easy and they answered with a run of their own, cutting the lead to four at the end of the first.
Going into the locker room, the Thunder led by seven. But Cedar came out of the locker room with energy. The Reds tied the game at 37-37, but Desert Hills responded and took a 12-point lead at the end of the third. Back-to-back threes from Newby and a Mason Chase and-1 led to that run and gave the Thunder the momentum.
“I appreciate his maturity and his leadership because he had started most of the year, and five or six games ago we decided to have him come off the bench. He’s taken that role, he hasn’t pouted about it and he’s been a man about it. You’ve seen, when he’s playing well he’s just as good as anybody out there.”
Desert Hills then took a 19-point lead with four minutes left and that was it. Desert Hills got a commanding victory over the Reds and beat their Region 9 opponent for the third time this season.
Keegan Munson was a beast on the boards, getting rebounds both offensively and defensively while also contributing with some big buckets. Munson finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Turley called it his best game of the year.
Reggie Newby also stepped up for the Thunder with some crucial plays that gave the Thunder energy down the stretch. Add in Mason Chase’s play with 23 points, and you have an extremely balanced scoring attack that helped the Thunder take down the Reds in the quarterfinals.
“It’s huge,” Chase said. “As soon as you think you’ve got us figured out, you don’t. Any one of our players can go off at any time. If they get the opportunity to shoot, you know that they’ll knock it down. We have a lot of weapons.”
When asked about how hot their team is right now, Chase said, ” very, 10 out of 10 hotness.”
The Thunder look prepared to make a run in the tournament.
Grant and Savage didn’t do much for the Reds, and as a result, they had trouble keeping up with the firepower of the Thunder. Luke Armstrong had a great game, and Zab Santana was a big spark off the bench for the Reds in the loss.
“It was huge to get here,” Cedar head coach Mark Esplin said. “We’re very young; we started four juniors and a senior. Our next two or three guys off the bench are all underclassmen, so it was huge to get here to build for next year. We have a lot to build on, and I think we’ll be back next year.”
Desert Hills plays Sky View on Friday at 5:50 p.m. in the Class 4A semifinal game.
No. 1 Sky View 60, No. 8 Hurricane 55
The Tigers jumped out of the gates with back-to-back deep threes from Bryce Thomas, and they were playing well against the top-seeded Sky View. The two teams went back and forth in the first half with the score being tied at 31 going into halftime.
“We prepared well, we knew what they were going to do, and for the most part, I felt like we executed really well,” Hurricane head coach Todd Langston said. “We tried to spread the floor, get to the basket and use our quickness. For all but the last minute of the game, we were within striking range. They played hard, and that’s a very talented team we played. There were 25 people in the gym that thought we could win, and they were all in the locker room with us.”
The Tigers came out of the locker room and hit back-to-back shots to take a five-point lead. The back and forth game continued until the final buzzer sounded. Hurricane did a great job breaking the Sky View zone with their outside shooting. The Tigers went 4-7 from three and also got to the line, hitting 9-13 free throws.
At the end of the third quarter, Hurricane was up 43-42 on the Bobcats. Coming into the game, the Bobcats had won their last two games by 25 points or more, and it looked like they felt the pressure in the fourth quarter.
With six minutes left in the game, Sky View had the lead 45-43, but Hurricane tied it with just under four minutes remaining. The last four minutes were tight, but the Bobcats were able to pull it out 60-55 over the Tigers.
Daxton Dayley finished with 18 points while Bryce Thomas and TJ Minor added 10 points each.
“Here’s the deal, you play Region 9 teams and there are some great teams,” Langston said. “That being said, I think that helped prepare us for that game. We really felt like we could beat them. When we shoot the ball, well, we’re a really good basketball team. We went through some lulls, lost a few games, but we still had a good season and the kids believed in themselves.”
Langston said their region games really helped prepare them for Sky View, and they were not scared as a result of their tough schedule this season.
No. 2 Dixie 61, No. 10 Green Canyon 45
The Flyers looked like the top seed out of Region 9 and the region champions on Thursday afternoon against No. 10 Green Canyon. Dixie commanded the entire game, leading 10-8 at the end of the first, and Green canyon only led once in the game early in the second quarter.
Dixie grew the lead to 11 at halftime and continued to stretch that lead into the third, eventually taking a 20-point lead. Green Canyon gave the Flyers some problems with a full-court press, and they cut the lead to 13, but Dixie responded.
“The thing is, all year teams wouldn’t press us because they know we’re going to get layups on the other end, which we then settled down and got the layups that we needed,” Flyers head coach Tyler Roberts. “Normally we’re a hard team to press. Of course we will look at film, but I think that a lot of that is just nerves.”
The Flyers pushed the lead back to 19 points with under three minutes left and ended up winning by a final of 61-45.
The Flyers once again had a balanced scoring attack with Isaac Finlinson scoring 13 and Ethan Bennett adding 12 points. Jordan Matthews also had nine points while Noah Lemke had eight points and six rebounds. Nine Dixie players registered points on the night in the 16-point victory.
“That’s been our goal all year, trying to get five or so guys that can score each and every night,” Roberts said. “I think that’s what is special about this team, they’re very unselfish and sometimes you’ll look at box scores and it’s a different guy every night.”
After the game, Roberts preached preparation and he got a chance to see Juan Diego play, who the Flyers will match up with tomorrow. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m as they look to gain a spot in the championship game.
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