If the boys basketball preseason is designed to build a team’s toughness, Dixie is sure to take away valuable lessons from the early part of the schedule.
The Flyers have shown resilience in what’s been a tough start to the season. In Saturday afternoon’s Ken Robinson Classic, their strong character was tested again, but similar to their previous outings, the effort wasn’t quite enough to get them over the top.
Dixie kept the score tight against Logan, however its comeback fell short to the Grizzlies, 44-42 at Burns Arena. The Flyers’ record dropped to 1-3.
Three of Dixie’s four games have been decided by nine points or fewer.
Although the loss wasn’t ideal for coach Ryan Cuff, he’s been around long enough to know these games are indeed a good test for the team, but ultimately, it won’t affect their playoff stature come February. He said these tough non-region games are meant to build teamwork and give players a chance to gain experience.
Dixie swingman Dakota Bair finished with a team-high 13 points and center Kyler Smith added 11.
Despite the shaky start, positivity is still very much alive within Flyers’ circle as their season is just beginning.
“I really like our team,” said starting point guard Jordan Hall. “We have a really great group of guys and an amazing coaching staff, who work really hard. … We just need to work on our defense and patience for sure, but we have a quick team and we’re really deep in talent.”
After a 9-9 start, the Grizzlies pulled away – somewhat – in the second quarter, entering the locker room up 23-17. The low scoring output stemmed from physical play and emphasis on defense. The same physical pace continued in the second half with each team tallying 11 points in the third to keep the deficit at bay.
In the fourth, though, Dixie got rolling.
Bair (13 points) got into a good rhythm and racked up eight of the Flyers’ first 10 points of the quarter. His layup off an inbounds pass at the midway point knotted the contest at 38.
Logan, however, responded with a Jordan Larsen runner on the left-wing, which hit almost every part of the rim before dropping. The score gave the Grizzlies a crucial 40-38 lead.
With 3:02 left, Taylor Compton’s steal and transition layup increased the deficit to four. Dixie battled back, though, pulling to within 44-42. They would eventually secure the game’s final possession.
After a bad set that began with 20 seconds left, the Flyers called for time and started over with nine seconds to go.
After the ball swung to the right wing, Kyle Hansen (10 points) got the ball and reversed back to the center of the court, drove the lane, and fired a short jumper that hit off the back of the iron as time expired.
Up next for Dixie is the region opener Wednesday at Hurricane.