Desert Hills had all week to stew.
Manhandled by Pine View seven days earlier, the Thunder took out their frustrations on a Snow Canyon squad eager to wrap up a region title. Buoyed by fierce defense in the fourth quarter, crucial buckets by Josh Anderson and an 11-4 spurt to close the game, Desert Hills stunned first-place Snow Canyon 58-52 on its home court Friday, putting Region 9 boys basketball into a tizzy.
Snow Canyon can still clinch an outright league title with a win Tuesday at Dixie. Yet a Warriors’ loss coupled with wins by the Thunder (home vs. Canyon View) and Cedar (at Pine View) would create a chaotic three-way tie for first place.
This much is true: On Friday, a large portion of the crowd arrived expecting to see the nets cut down. The scissors, for the time being, will be tucked away.
“It’s always nice to make them wait,” said Desert Hills coach Wade Turley.
Desert Hills (8-3 region, 15-5 overall) put the Pine View loss in its rear-view mirror by remembering its biggest strength — its depth. Snow Canyon (9-2, 12-6) had a 10-point lead in the first half and was ahead 29-20 when the Thunder’s best player — guard Ty Rutledge, who had a team-high 15 points — picked up his second foul. Anderson was assessed his second infraction a few minutes later. Both sat until halftime.
And yet Desert Hills went to intermission with a three-point lead, not relinquishing another point.
The Thunder drilled four 3-pointers to close the second quarter — one apiece by Brycen Williams, Taylor Houston, Jackson Card and Chase Thompson.
“It shows how deep our bench is,” Anderson said. “Our bench pretty much switched the whole game around.”
Snow Canyon coach James Brown said he probably should have called a timeout during the 12-0 run, but he wanted to see how his team reacted to adversity.
“I like to see if my kids can work through some things,” Brown said. “We’re at the point of the season when somebody out there has to step up and stop the bleeding without me having to use a timeout.”
In the second half, the Warriors got back on pace. Chandler Gines, who had 10 of his game-high 17 points after the break, came alive in the third quarter with eight points as Snow Canyon took a 45-43 lead into the fourth.
The Warriors’ offense, however, quickly dried up.
“Our goal was not allowing any easy shots,” said Thompson, recalling what the coaches preached before the fourth quarter. “Everything they got, they had to earn — even if it meant fouling them and making them earn it at the line.”
Gabe Jensen’s 3-pointer gave Snow Canyon a 48-45 lead, then reserve forward Quincy Matthews hit a jumper — his second of the fourth quarter — to close the gap to one. Following a defensive stop, Desert Hills executed exquisite offense in the halfcourt, setting up a reverse layup for Anderson to grab a 49-48 lead.
Then came the play of the night. With 2:29 to go, Thompson made a snap pass in the lane to Anderson, who sliced to the net for a bucket and foul. The Thunder’s lead climbed to four.
“I came off a curl, my teammate hit me and I saw Gottfredson step toward me out of the corner of my eye, so I dished to (Anderson) and he finished,” Thompson explained.
Turley said he was happy to see Anderson play with more aggressiveness in the second half. He had more fouls (two) than points (zero) in the first half.
For Anderson, executing at the line was a point of emphasis. He bricked a couple in the closing seconds in a narrow defeat at home to Snow Canyon on Jan. 16.
Not this time.
Said Anderson: “All game long their fans were yelling “choke” every time I touched the ball, so I’m glad I made it.”
Seven seconds later Gines was whistled for a charge.
The Warriors pressed on. Gottfredson scored in the lane to make it 52-50, but Anderson’s layup on a helter-skelter possession pushed the lead back to four. Gines made a floater with 42 seconds left to trim the deficit to two, but Desert Hills’ clutch free-throw shooting put the game away.
Thompson hit a pair — this in a one-and-one situation — and Williams sank both of his.
“I just tried to block out all the noise and focus on the free throws,” Thompson said. “It was a way-loud environment.”
And on this night, those not wearing black went home way disappointed.