ST. GEORGE — Cedar started off the day by winning a tough game over Green Canyon, but the biggest story of the afternoon was Pine View versus Desert Hills. Pine View’s cinderella run continued on Friday as they knocked off No. 3 Desert Hills to advance into the championship game. As a result, two Region 9 teams will face off on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. for all the marbles and the Class 4A girls basketball state title.
No. 1 Cedar 68, No. 5 Green Canyon 61
It looked like the Reds were going to jump out to a big lead early after going up 18-9 towards the end of the first but Green Canyon kept them close with a 6-2 run to end the first quarter. They then took the lead over the Reds and had all the momentum, but the Reds shook off some offensive struggles and grabbed a six-point lead at halftime. They would go on to get a seven-point win after a back and forth battle with Green Canyon.
“I saw two very good teams out there playing,” Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen said. “I saw probably six or seven college basketball players on that court, there was a lot of talent. It just came down to a couple of well-executed plays. That was the difference, two or three shots. It was a good high school game between two really good teams.”
Cedar struggled with rebounding in the first half and gave up 11 offensive rebounds resulting in seven second-chance points. While getting those second-chance opportunities, Green Canyon was able to capitalize with some kick out threes and they were shooting the three early and often.
“That’s always been a problem, that’s something we’ve focused on the whole year,” Nielsen said of the offensive rebounding.
In the second half, it seemed as if every time the Reds would gain some momentum or hit a big shot, Green Canyon would answer with one of their own. The Wolves just would not back down.
At the end of the third, the Wolves were down five, but they never let the Reds get too far away until a push from the Reds gave them a nine-point lead with under a minute left and the rest was history.
It turned into a fouling game, and Cedar had some trouble hitting free throws but Green Canyon continued to throw in some miraculous deep three-point shots.
“You just say, ‘fantastic shot,’ and if you can do it again, do it again,” Nielsen said. “I told the girls, if they’re at 35 feet, they’re open, you’re going to have to guard them. They are in range anytime they want to.”
You are going to live with those percentages, and the Reds did just that. The Wolves finished the game 7-27 from deep which came out to be just over 25%.
As for moving on to the championship game and playing a Region 9 opponent, Nielsen thinks that their experience in the state finals will hold some weight come Saturday morning.111
“The girls know what to expect and there aren’t any surprises, so we’ll prepare and see what happens,” Nielsen said. “Region 9, we talk about them being the best region and this just kind of shows that our region is so hard every single night.”
Sam Johnston echoed the same sentiment.
“It’s exciting,” Johnston said. “It’ll be fun to play a Region 9 team that we are used to playing.”
Logann Laws led the Reds with 20 points but Japrix Weaver and Mayci Torgerson were not far behind with 19 points and 18 points respectively.
The Reds will play at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Pine View.
No. 7 Pine View 53, No.3 Desert Hills 41
Pine View is the hottest team in the state tournament right now after knocking off No. 2 Ridgeline on Thursday and that roll continued into Friday. They started the game off strong against Desert Hills and took a six-point lead at halftime. The Panthers outscored the Thunder by 10 in the third quarter and that ultimately led them to a double-digit victory.
“We just spent a few minutes trying to describe it, and it put a lot of us in tears,” Panthers head coach Ben Luce said of describing the win. “How far we’ve come this team and in one year as a program, it’s hard to put into words but the girls have earned it. By earning it, they’ve deserved another shot at it.”
They got Kami Bliss and Julia Jacobsen in foul trouble early, both with two fouls, and minimized Sydney Peisley and Bliss’s impact on the game while the entire Pine View roster chipped in to grab a big 16-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Last night, Averi Papa talked about knowing their personnel and it showed today. Peisley and Bliss, two of Desert Hills’ top scorers, only scored 11 points each and had trouble getting the ball in the basket. As a result, the rest of the Thunder had a hard time putting points on the scoreboard.
“That was the game plan,” Luce said of limiting Bliss and Peisley. “The first two times we played them Bliss had like 21 and 31, 10 threes in two games. We needed to be on her toes, we needed to make her a driver and Sydney (Peisley) shot the ball well last night. We knew we needed to contest a little bit but more importantly take her left hand away. The girls paid attention to details. We knew who we were guarding, and we knew we needed to make anybody else beat us.”
Desert Hills was down 16 with four minutes left in the game, and they looked out of place. After only losing three games this season, all by five points or less, they looked shocked.
“It just wasn’t our day, the basketball gods weren’t with us,” Thunder head coach Ron Denos said. “I thought things weren’t going our way, and it kind of ate at us and just snowballed. It went the other way for them.”
Sometimes that underdog mentality works in a team’s favor and Pine View seems to be running with it. Averi Papa agreed that they are playing with that attitude.
“I think it’s been interesting because we’ve never made it this far before,” Papa said. “We believe in ourself and as long as we believe in ourselves and know what we can do, that’s all that matters.”
Papa finished with another double double, 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Ellie Wilson and Alyson Schmitt continued to contribute in a big way. Those last two names have been huge for the Panthers in the quarterfinal game and in the semifinal matchup.
With Leiani Tonga nursing a bad ankle, Schmitt’s rise to the starting lineup and her ability to step up the table have been crucial. She almost had a double double on Thursday night and the same happened on Friday.
Pine View finished the game down the stretch and they earned themselves a spot in the championship game against No. 1 Cedar at 11 a.m. Friday morning.
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