‘It’s a validation’: Rebuilding Snow Canyon girls basketball secures first win

ST. GEORGE — The Snow Canyon Warriors secured their first win of the girls basketball season, completing the comeback over Kanab at home Tuesday night, 47-41.

The Warriors trailed for the majority of the game but jumped ahead in the third quarter and didn’t look back. It was their first win through five games on the preseason schedule as head coach Dan Roden attempts to rebuild a squad that finished 15-7 and 8-6 in Region 9 a year ago but lost all of its starters.

If this wasn’t a tall enough task, COVID-19 also slowed the process of bringing the team together, but with the win over Kanab out of the way, Roden said he hopes the team is starting to turn a corner.

“We knew it was going to be a process,” Roden said. “I’m happy for them because they’re work so hard and finally have something pay off for them.”

Snow Canyon lost to Richfield twice – in addition to 5A Salem Hills and 2A Enterprise –leading into their game with Kanab. The Warriors got close in their second bout Friday with Richfield, falling only by six points. Roden said he thought that’s when his team started to put the pieces together, and on Tuesday, they had enough of the pieces assembled to outscore their opponents for the first time.

“It’s a validation for them,” Roden said. “I thought that was Friday at Richfield (when we started to turn the corner), even though we lost. We played much, much better. We had a chance to win. We talked about that tonight. We started to turn the corner, now continue that momentum and keep getting better.”

The momentum was almost snapped right out of the gate on Tuesday, however. A couple of blown ball screens gave Kanab’s Addie Shakespeare two wide open 3-pointers in the first 40 seconds, forcing Snow Canyon to burn a timeout less than a minute into the game.

They worked back from the early deficit to a 20-20 tie at the half before falling behind quickly again in the third quarter. With just under 40 seconds remaining in the frame, senior Tyler Mooring knotted the game with a jumper just inside the arc at 32-32. About 30 seconds later, Ebony Lealao, a transfer from 5A Highland, drained a 3-pointer, and Snow Canyon took its first lead.

The Warriors stretched the lead out to as many as nine points in the fourth quarter and fended off a small rally attempt to secure their first win.

Lealao recorded 15 points in her second game as a Warrior, including four from the perimeter. She is coming off an ACL tear, is wearing a brace and still has limited mobility, but she is already making an impact. As far as points, she only trailed Mooring, who had 17 for the team lead.

“She’s still getting into the flow of things,” Roden said of Lealao, “but when she’s going to be fully healthy, when she gets everything down, she’s going to be an asset.”

The Warriors look to keep the momentum going in their next game Thursday at Payson.

Desert Hills played the only other Region 9 game Tuesday night.

Desert Hills 68, Millard 51

An explosive first quarter and a dominant game by Julia Jacobsen gave the Thunder their third win of the year at Millard.

Desert Hills jumped out to 19-7 lead after the first quarter, providing breathing room for the rest of the game. A 21-10 third quarter sealed the deal, as the Eagles won quarters two and four by three points in each.

Julia Jacobsen scored 20 points and controlled both sides of the court.

“She was dominant on the defensive side also,” Desert Hills head coach Ron Denos said. “I think she had three charges and at least three blocks and at least three steals.”

Enid Vaifanua scored 17 and Sa’de Turlington scored 10.

The Thunder will host Payson on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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

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