Panthers beat Thunder, stay in playoff hunt

Panthers beat Thunder, stay in playoff hunt

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Panthers beat Thunder, stay in playoff hunt

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ST. GEORGE

The Pine View Panthers’ emotions were electric from the opening tip until well after the final buzzer sounded. The process resulted in years of frustration that had finally boiled over, not for just the boys basketball team, but for their student body as well.

It’s no secret the type of rivalry Pine View has had with Desert Hills since the latter’s inception in 2008. On the court, however, that rivalry has been one-sided in recent years, favoring the Thunder.

Yet on Friday night, the inspired Pine View community was able to change the talking points.

Behind a full and boisterous home crowd, the Panthers fed off the inspiring environment and rolled to a 44-34 win over the Thunder — their first vs. Desert Hills since Feb. 17, 2010.

Swingman Jack Bangerter scored 14 points, which included going 3 of 4 from beyond the arc to lead the home team. Center Kody Wilstead played a significant role in the paint, finishing with seven points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks. And point guard Dallin Milne (6 of 8 on free-throws) contributed eight points and five assists in the win.

Pine View shot 36 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the charity stripe (10 of 16).

“We’ve talked about changing the culture here (Pine View basketball program) … We’re starting to do that and turn things around,” Milne said. “We were playing with a lot of heart and passion tonight, a complete team effort. … Our student section was unbelievable. They came out and gave us a lot of support.”

Added coach Darrell Larsen: “A great turnout tonight. The student body has been working on it, and they were as loud of a crowd as I’ve ever heard. And that really helped us.”

The Thunder (7-3 region, 14-5 overall) was led by swingman Ty Rutledge’s seven points and three rebounds. Center Josh Anderson added four points and eight rebounds. Chase Thompson tabbed seven points.

But as a team, Desert Hills shot just 26 percent from the field with the primary struggles coming from beyond the arc (1 of 11) and at the free-throw line (11 of 25).

Thunder forward Taylor Houston said the Panthers are a solid team, who are real effective when Wilstead’s crashing the boards and Milne’s aggressiveness on offense results in trips to the free-throw line.

Pine View fed off the home presence and jumped out to a quick 16-6 lead after the first quarter.

Wilstead swung the lead in their favor after his transition bucket made the count 8-6 early on. The Panthers then converted on their next two possessions — a Collin Dowdell jumper and a Bangerter trey from the right corner.

From there, both teams traded jabs for the remaining three quarters, and it soon became evident how critical the first quarter difference was.

In the third, Desert Hills tried to turn the tide and get back in the ballgame. The deficit was trimmed to 24-18 after a Brycen Williams steal at half court led to a clear path for the uncontested layup. But like so many times in this matchup, the Panthers answered.

Moments later, Bangerter nailed a jumper and another 3-point trey over the next few possessions, giving his team a significant 31-18 advantage.

The loss dropped Desert Hills to a half-game back of Cedar for the second seed in region. Yet with two games left – at leader Snow Canyon and vs. Canyon View – the Thunder could still snag a home playoff game.

Rutledge said the keys for the Thunder going forward is for each player to do their jobs and play tough defense.

For Pine View, it snapped a five-game losing streak to Desert Hills, which included an earlier meeting this season. This outcome, however, had even greater meaning within the Region 9 standings at stake.

The Panthers (4-5 region, 11-8 overall) entered Friday a half-game back of Dixie for the fourth and final state tournament seed. With both teams winning, their showdown Wednesday night at Dixie High takes on added meaning.

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