Region 9 girls basketball: Desert Hills clinches region title

ST. GEORGE — Region 9 named its champion on Tuesday night as the Desert Hills Thunder topped Dixie on the road. Desert Hills breaks Cedar’s three-year run topping the Southern Utah circuit, taking the school’s first region title since 2016-17. As Desert Hills is now 13-0, the second-place Pine View Panthers (11-2) cannot overtake or even tie the Thunder with just one game remaining on the schedule. The Thunder will go for the undefeated region run at home against Cedar on Thursday.

Here are recaps from the action Tuesday night:

Desert Hills 58, Dixie 43

The Thunder went out on the road and got one step closer to a perfect regular season. Desert Hills pulled away in a big second half. After ending the first half up by six the Thunder held Dixie to a lone field goal in the third quarter and ended it on a 10-0 run with 3-pointers from Enid Vaifanua and Julia Jacobsen. The win gives the Thunder the Region 9 regular season crown.

“We’ve got to keep proving we’re the team now,” Desert Hills head coach Ron Denos said. “That’s the problem. It’s tough when you’re on top to keep on top. Everybody is gunning for you and everybody is going to have their best games.”

Desert Hills basketball at Dixie, St. George, Utah, Feb. 16, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

The 43-29 advantage it took into the fourth quarter was enough to carry Desert Hills to the clinch, though it stretched the lead to a game-high of 17 points for good measure anyway.

Dixie came out swinging against the region powerhouse early. It led as late as the halfway point of the second quarter and went blow-for-blow with the Thunder. Kealah Faumuina scored all of the team’s six points in the first quarter, while Desert Hills scored only seven as team.

Scoring picked up for both squads in the second quarter. Desert Hills scored 20 on the strength of 11 from Vaifanua, including nine straight. Faumuina scored seven and Jaide Bundy landed a pair from the arc. The Thunder went to the locker room at halftime up 27-21.

Faumuina led the game with 17 points. She landed seven shots from the field and went 3-for-4 from the line. Katie Mills hit four from the arc on senior night, her last regular season home game.

Vaifanua scored 16 against her former team to lead her current one. Shailee Bundy scored 11 and Jacobsen and Olivia Cluff each scored 10.

Desert Hills improves to 13-0 in Region 9 and 16-2 overall. The Thunder close the season Thursday at home against the Cedar Reds, who went undefeated in the previous two seasons in region play.

Dixie drops to 5-8 in league and 7-12 overall. Currently sitting in sixth place in the region, the Flyers can climb as high as fifth with a win on Thursday at second-place Pine View.

Snow Canyon 48, Canyon View 43

In a close contest with Canyon View, the Snow Canyon Warriors won back-to-back games for the first time this season and secured their first W at home since Dec. 15.

Canyon View basketball at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Feb. 16, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

None of the first three quarters ended with a difference in score of more than four points. The second and third quarters ended with a lead of just one point, first for the Falcons then for the Warriors. Snow Canyon was able to pull away in the fourth on a 7-for-11 effort from the line in the last eight minutes. McKare Wong went 3-for-4 and 5-for-6 overall on 1-pointers in the game. Ebony Lealao scored seven of her nine points in the fourth, with a trey and a 2-for-4 from the line.

Harlee Nicoll led the game with 17 points for Canyon View. She scored in each quarter and went 5-for-7 from the line. Addison Newman added 13 points for the Falcons.

For the victorious Warriors, Natalie Olson led the way with 15 points. She hit a pair from the arc and scored 10 in the first half, accounting for nearly half of Snow Canyon’s scoring at the midway point. Taylan Whitehead also reached double digits with 12 points in the game.

Snow Canyon improves to 3-10 in Region 9 play and 4-15 overall. Its position of seventh place in the region is locked in. The Warriors host Crimson Cliffs in the regular season finale on Thursday.

Canyon View falls to 6-7 and 9-12. The Falcons travel to Hurricane for a date with the Tigers and fourth place in the region on the line.

Pine View 65, Hurricane 41

Pine View’s big guns carried the load to build an early lead that it would not relinquish on the road. Alex Olson and Averi Papa combined for 10 of the Panthers’ 14 points in the first quarter to enter the first buzzer with a five-point edge. As Papa was held scoreless and Olson scored only five in the second quarter, the margin nearly stayed the same in the second stanza, 29-22.

Papa and Olson combined for 33 points total, with Olson making 17 and Papa 16. Olson landed five from the arc and went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. Papa hit five from the field and was sent to the line 11 times, converting on six.

Hurricane held with Pine View in the middle frames. It was outscored by two in the second quarter but tied the Panthers 15-15 in the third. It was a 17-point differential in the fourth quarter that turned the game into a rout. Papa was the leader in Pine View’s 21 points in the last eight minutes, scoring six. Mady Jensen and Ashlyn Clark each scored four in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Hurricane scored only four points in the fourth. Lindy Erickson scored the only field goal and Sadie Gilberg scored both her free throw attempts.

Haley Chesley led the Tigers with 12 points. The junior hit a pair of treys and went 2-for-2 from the line. Lydia Prince was second on the team with eight.

The Panthers improve to 11-2 in Region 9 and 18-2 overall. Their second-place finish in the region is clinched. They host Dixie on Thursday to conclude regular season play.

The Tigers fall to 8-12 overall and dip under .500 in league play, 6-7. Hurricane next hosts the Canyon View Falcons with a fourth-place region finish on the line.

Cedar 76, Crimson Cliffs 44

At Crimson Cliffs, the Cedar Reds went on a 24-4 run during the second quarter to put the game away. Abby Davis scored 23 points for Cedar, including five shots from behind the arc. Braylee Peterson added 16 points for the Reds.

Cedar basketball at Crimson Cliffs, Washington, Utah, Feb. 16, 2021 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

“We shared the ball very well,” said Cedar head coach Corry Nielsen, who noted that the Reds made 21 assists as a team.

Riann Gines led Crimson with 25 points.

Cedar improved to 8-5 in region play with one game remaining in the regular season. The Reds play at Desert Hills on Thursday. Meanwhile, Crimson remains winless in Region 9 but will try to break into the win column Thursday at Snow Canyon.

~ written by Jeff Richards

Thursday’s game schedule (Feb. 18)

  • Canyon View at Hurricane
  • Dixie at Pine View
  • Crimson Cliffs at Snow Canyon
  • Cedar at Desert Hills

Region 9 girls basketball standings (as of Feb. 17)

  1. Desert Hills 13-0 (17-2)
  2. Pine View 11-2 (18-2)
  3. Cedar 8-5 (11-9)
  4. Canyon View 6-7 (9-12)
  5. Hurricane 6-7 (8-12)
  6. Dixie 5-8 (7-12)
  7. Snow Canyon 3-10 (4-15)
  8. Crimson Cliffs 0-13 (2-17)

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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