ST. GEORGE — Junior point guard Braylee Peterson of Cedar High School has been selected as the girls basketball player of the week for week four of the Region 9 season.
Cedar is not the powerhouse it used to be, going undefeated in the past two seasons. But it is still a contender and Peterson is a big reason why. For a defending state champion that lost all five starters, Peterson has stepped in as the primary ball mover and, at times, also their primary scorer. Her impact came into its truest focus yet in week five, as she led the game in scoring in both of her team’s narrow three-point victories.
“Braylee is a key part of our team,” Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen told Cedar City News. “She controls our offense, is an excellent on-ball defender and has improved her outside shooting. She attacks the rim as well as anyone in the region.”
“The region has some great points guards and she is one of them,” she added.
Cedar won on Feb. 2 at home against Hurricane and Feb. 4 on the road at Dixie. Both games ended 44-41 as the Reds fended off comeback attempts in the second halves against both the Tigers and the Flyers.
Against Hurricane, the Reds carried an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. Peterson already had nine of Cedar’s 33 points as the team entered the final eight minutes in lead-defense mode. That meant putting the ball in Peterson’s hands and trying to drain the clock.
The Tigers had cut the deficit in half just two minutes into the fourth quarter. Peterson had missed a layup opportunity and dished a couple passes to teammates cutting who missed their shots. At 33-29, she executed a perfect give-and-go, handing the ball off to Kali Crowley at the top-left of the key, sliding down the right lane and getting the ball back to convert on a wide-open shot. A few moments later, she blocked a Lydia Prince shot and retained possession for Cedar. She hit a short jumper later from inside the free-throw line and drew the foul, landing the free throw to stretch the lead back out to eight with 3:30 to play.
Hurricane went on an 8-2 run over the next two minutes to reel the Reds’ lead back within two points before Peterson hit two more free throws. With a two-possession lead once again, Cedar was able to play conservative and slow the ball down the rest of the way to the win. Peterson finished with 16 points overall, seven in the fourth quarter.
“It’s definitely a relief when the buzzer goes off at the end,” Peterson said of both close victories. “It’s exciting and it progresses us forward as a team, especially in those close games. It’s good to learn and grow as a team.
“Those games give us confidence. It lets us know we can pull off those close wins and just helps us with more grit and determination and to not freak out, kind of settle in and play our game, not let other teams beat us up.”
Against Dixie, Peterson scored 17 points and helped the Reds defend a lead of six points entering the final frame. As the Flyers closed the lead to just one point nearing the 4:30 mark, she crashed the basket from the right side, taking a pass in stride from Jacey Messer and hit the rushing layup to stretch the lead back out to three. She had a block on the ensuing Dixie possession and was the primary ball mover down the stretch as Cedar defended the lead.
On a rush from an inbound, Peterson’s speed opened up Messer in the post, and Peterson’s pass set up an easy layup to stretch the lead to 43-38. After Addy Shaffer hit a 3-pointer with just over five seconds remaining, Peterson was fouled on the inbound, then fouled again and landed one of the ensuing free throws to reach the final score.
“I just like to attack, get into the paint and create problems that way. If I get an open lane I can take it and if not I can kick it back out for some of the shooters on my team.”
The Reds did not go undefeated through Region 9 play this season, as they had in the previous two. The program, however, is still a contender and sitting in third place in the region as of Feb. 11.
“I’m excited for our team, I’m excited for what it brings,” Peterson said. “We have a lot kids with the ability to do good things. We are a good team so I’m just excited for this last half.
“It is a rebuilding year. We’re currently underdogs. But we want to show people we’re still Cedar.”
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