After eight games and a win in its Region 9 opener Tuesday over Dixie, the Desert Hills Thunder girls are turning into a force to be reckoned with.
The Thunder are the only unbeaten team in 3A (8-0) and ranked No. 1 in the state by the Deseret News. Although they struggled a bit into the third quarter against Juab at the 2A-3A Preseason Preview in Richfield on Friday, they turned up the defensive heat and held the Wasps to 12 second-half points in a 45-28 win.
To date, all of Desert Hills’ wins have been by double digits, with a 40-30 victory over the Flyers its closest game. After they take on Cedar tonight, the Thunder will welcome Bear River of Region 10 along with Salem Hills (4A) and Pleasant Grove (5A) to its gym for a tournament Friday and Saturday.
Blair Bliss (14.9 points per game) and Haley Bodnar (13.8) have proven to be a potent 1-2 scoring punch. Bliss, a junior, has scored in double figures in all but one of the Thunder’s games, and Bodnar has had a pair of 20-point outings — 21 in the season opener against Payson and 23 on Dec. 8 at Lone Peak.
Freshman makes mark for Lady Reds
For fans who witnessed last Tuesday’s Region 9 girls basketball opener between Cedar and Canyon View, there was one surprising player in the game’s early stages who got everyone’s attention.
Lady Reds freshman Courtney Morley made an impressive debut for the varsity squad in the cross-town rivalry, scoring 13 first-half points and providing plenty of defensive spark as Cedar held off Canyon View 48-40.
Morley made two telling plays in the second quarter that helped the Lady Reds build a 10-point halftime lead. She had a steal that led to a layup and later had a pair of 3-pointers that gave Cedar (3-2 overall) a 24-14 lead.
Then with the Falcon defense keying on Morley, senior Tara Shipp picked up the slack, getting inside often and hitting her free throws down the stretch to key the victory.
“She’s a gamer,” Cedar coach John Elison said of Morley after last week’s win over CV. “She’s got mind sense for the game and is just smart. She eats the game of basketball.”
Morley, Shipp and the rest of the Lady Reds travel to the Thunderdome to take on Desert Hills tonight, then host Salem Hills on Thursday.
Around the Region
* Following its loss to Cedar, Canyon View split a pair of games in Richfield. The Falcons held off Enterprise in a 47-42 overtime win Friday, then dropped a tight 28-27 defensive struggle to Morgan on Saturday.
Josie Platt leads the Falcons (3-5, 0-1 Region 9) in scoring at 11.9 points per game. They will host Snow Canyon tonight.
* Hurricane dropped both of its games at the Sevier Valley Center over the weekend, a 43-39 decision to Wasatch and a 55-52 defeat at the hands of North Sanpete.
With a three-game losing streak, the Tigers will play its first Region 9 game of the season tonight at Dixie. K.C. Gubler leads the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg, and adds 7.4 rebounds a game.
* Snow Canyon, the defending 3A state champ, routed Pine View in its Region 9 opener last week, then split a pair of home games, beating Maple Mountain on Friday and falling 46-42 to Juan Diego on Saturday.
BYU-bound Amy Harris leads the Warriors (6-3, 1-0) in scoring at 15.2 ppg, and has offensive support from Megan Leavitt (11.1) and Grace Walton (10.3).
* Dixie (6-2, 0-1) had a four-game winning streak snapped with the loss to Desert Hills in the Region 9 opener, then came back Friday to beat Maple Mountain at home.
Caroline Lantor is the lone Flyer with a double-figure scoring average at 11.1 points a game, but teammates Kelsey McCann (9.6) and Elizabeth Thompson (9.4) are close to the mark.
* Pine View (1-6, 0-1) earned its first win of the season Saturday, a 53-23 rout over Southwest Technical Academy. The Panthers are idle today and will welcome Kanab to The Pit on Thursday.
* Parowan fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday, dropping a 40-34 decision at Bryce Valley. Senior Chenin Benson has been a huge spark for the 6-1 Rams, averaging 17.6 points a game.
Benson’s season high was a 33-point effort in a 62-59 overtime win at home over 3A Stansbury on Dec. 1.
Parowan next plays at South Sevier on Thursday.