The Region 9 team on the biggest role of late currently resides in Cedar City.
A six-game winning streak has catapulted the Cedar Reds into the boys basketball spotlight. And during the current stretch, they’ve impressively dominated each contest, winning by at least 12 points. Not bad, considering the Reds lost two of three games to start the season.
“The biggest difference has definitely been our strength and unity,” said forward Ryan Armstrong on Cedar’s turnaround. “We know times are going to get hard, especially in this region on the road, but we stick together while we are out there on the court and play as one. We have stopped with the one-on-one game and now don’t care who gets all the glory just as long we stay hot and keep the wins going, it doesn’t matter who the best performer was.”
Cedar (3-0 region, 9-3 overall) reached the Final Four in 3A a season ago. And so far, this group – at the moment – appears talented enough to at least match those efforts of their predecessors. The Reds’ stellar play includes impressive wins over region foes Canyon View, Desert Hills, and Dixie.
Speaking of which, it was their 68-46 blowout win at Dixie that helped put them on the map.
“Our top strength is when we play a fast-paced, up tempo game, and always push the ball,” said center Dustin Staggs. “Coach Craig Cardon always gets on us for that, because that is really where our bread-and-butter is.”
The frontcourt duo of Armstrong and Staggs is a significant factor to Cedar’s early season productivity.
They are combining for nearly 22 points and 14 rebounds per game. Yet their respective roles are much different from the ones they had a season ago.
“Last year, I’d come off the bench and just be a physical player and get boards,” said Armstrong, a senior. “This year, however, I am one of the team captains and that changes the role a lot. I have to encourage my team to bring up the intensity. I don’t necessarily need to be the main guy scoring, but I’ll do the best I can to get everyone doing their best and keep up the tempo. Get on the floor after the ball and get on the boards.”
For Staggs, a junior, his responsibilities have increased dramatically.
“My role is to lock down the paint and just do as much as I can to help the team, offensively and defensively,” Staggs said. “Last year I didn’t get much varsity time since we had a great all-senior lineup. But this year I get a lot of minutes, which is why my numbers have changed.”
The Reds are outscoring foes by 11 points per game. In addition to the previously mentioned duo, Cedar is also receiving major contributions from Mike Hourigan (9.1 ppg) and Dason Coronado (10.6 ppg).
Armstrong said Cedar’s ability to have a cohesive team where any guy can step on any particular night is a big reason why they can be successful in a highly competitive region.
“Our style of play does not rely on that one guy to do everything – we all play a significant role in our own way,” Armstrong said. “We have a lot of strengths on this team. We run the floor extremely well and know what each other is doing at all times. We’ve got guards who can step back and knock down the jumper, or when there is a guy in their face, they have the ability to drive to the basket. Our “big-men” run the floor extremely hard and can post up hard and just bury guys deep and even hit that occasional 18-footer.”
Cedar hopes to keep their hot-streak going in another road test, this time at Snow Canyon on Friday.
From there, the Reds will be home in consecutive games against Hurricane, Pine View, and Desert Hills.
If Cedar has a strong showing in this critical stretch, then the odds of capturing the region title could certainly be in their favor.
Around the region
Pine View will look to snap a two-game losing streak against rival Desert Hills on Wednesday. The Panthers are 1-1 in region and 8-4 overall, but a win in the Thunderdome could do wonders for their young team’s psyche going forward. … Speaking of Desert Hills (2-1, 9-3), they are riding a two-game winning streak and will look to keep the region pace. After Pine View, the Thunder host the Warriors next Wednesday before embarking on a two-game road trip against the Falcons and Reds. … Snow Canyon (2-0, 5-4) continues to be a streaky bunch entering the week, following up a two-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak. A reason for the turnaround, however, is the play of center Nate Gottfredson and swing forward Chandler Gines. Most recently, the tandem combined for 31 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the Panthers.
Key Number: 26
The amount Cedar outscored Dixie during the fourth quarter at The Hangar last week, securing the Reds’ 68-46 win.
Highlight Performance: Josh Anderson
The Desert Hills post player finished with 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 steals during the Thunder’s 50-35 win over Hurricane.