ST. GEORGE — In the first game of the night, the Desert Hills Thunder lost to No. 1 Sky View by 21 but the Dixie Flyers pulled out a tough game to end the night. Sky View beat the Thunder in blowout fashion to advance while the Flyers survived a late push from Juan Diego to move on. The two teams will play in the boys state tournament championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
No. 1 Sky View 65, No. 12 Desert Hills 44
After taking down No. 4 Cedar to advance into the semifinals, the Thunder’s run in the state playoffs ended.
Desert Hills was up by two after the first quarter, and it looked as if they were going to give Sky View a challenge, but the Bobcats exploded to outscore the Thunder by 23 in the second quarter. At halftime, Sky View was up by 21 and they never looked back, winning 65-44.
If you take out the fact that the Thunder were outscored in the second quarter 28-5, they scored the same amount as Sky View in the third and fourth. If they could have managed the second quarter they would have had a good shot at winning the game.
“I thought we played even with them in the first quarter. In fact, we were even in three quarters it was just the second quarter,” head coach Wade Turley said. “They just got caught, we couldn’t make a shot and it just kind of got away from us. I tried to call a couple of timeouts to get us to stay within range but they just played really well in that second quarter.”
The Thunder cut the lead down to 17 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter but they did not get any closer as the top-seeded Bobcats advanced into the Class 4A championship game.
Mason Chase led the Thunder with 13 points while Peyton Holmes chipped in 13 points.
One stat that jumped off the final box score was the rebounding margin. The Thunder were out rebounded 45-27 on the night including 19 offensive rebounds for Sky View.
“That’s their strength; they’re big and they’re physical,” Turley said of their rebounding. “We tried, we’ve got smaller guys boxing them out and sometimes we didn’t box out. Overall. I thought the kids fought, they were just bigger.”
After beating Pine View on the road in the second round and then taking down Cedar yesterday, the Thunder’s season ended but they made a remarkable run. They were the highest seed to advance into the final four of the tournament at No. 12.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster season. I always felt like this team had potential, and we went through some adversity through the season,” Turley said. “At the end of the day, for our team to come together, finish strong like they did, and be in the final four, hats off to our team. I thought they had a great year.”
No. 2 Dixie vs No. 6 Juan Diego Catholic
When looking at Dixie and Juan Diego, the Flyers clearly had a size advantage but the Soaring Eagles played tough. When the Flyers started the game a little sluggish, Juan Diego took advantage with a seven-point lead after the first quarter. Despite the slow start, the Flyers would win.
“We came out flat, and they did a good job controlling the tempo,” Flyers head coach Tyler Roberts said. “I looked at box scores and knew they didn’t have great third quarters and I knew we were a great second-half team. I put a lot of pressure on them to come out and play their guts out, play till the end and leave it on the floor. If we lose we go home and they’ve worked way too hard to just roll over.”
The Flyers woke up in the second and got within just two points at halftime, finding themselves down 24-22.
Noah Lemke led the Flyers with nine points in the first half, but Juan Diego was doing a great job denying Isaac Finlinson, limiting him to six points.
In the third quarter, the Flyers defense started to play like they have throughout the season. They held Juan Diego to just four points and took a nine-point lead going into the fourth quarter. A big reason was their zone defense.
“That was one thing that we were kind of waiting a little bit in the second half to do,” Roberts said. “I didn’t want them to get comfortable in the first half with our zone.”
Down the stretch, Dixie did a great job playing with the lead and using the clock to their advantage. After back to back buckets, the Flyers had an 11-point lead a minute and a half left in the game but Juan Diego found a way to fight back into the game late.
The Soaring Eagles had four straight possessions where they scored a three or an and-1 and had the ball down two with 15 seconds left. They got a decent look at the buzzer, but it didn’t fall and Dixie snuck away with the win 52-50.
“I don’t even know how many free throws we missed, I couldn’t count how many,” Roberts said of the final minute. “That’s not us.”
Ethan Bennett finished the game with 18 points while Noah Lemke added 15 points. The Flyers also shot the ball well from the field, going 19-31 for 61% field goal percentage.
Sky View will be the most physical team the Flyers have played this season, and that physicality will be a big factor in the game.
“It’s the last game so you just play your guts out,” Roberts said. “The biggest thing is you’ve got to match toughness. Our defense is considered the best in the state, we’ll find out tomorrow.”
The Flyers will take on Sky View tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. for the Class 4A state championship.
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