HURRICANE – For much of Friday’s road game, the Cedar boys basketball team led comfortably, their advantage hovering around 10 points.
But in the fourth quarter, Hurricane rallied, twice cutting the Redmen’s advantage to one point.
Each time, however, Cedar responded by scoring the next four points of the game. Those bouncebacks allowed the Redmen to hang on for a 54-48 victory at Tiger Gym.
After James Bennion pulled the Tigers within one at 45-44 with 3:13 left, Ben Brown responded with a driving layup and then Keenan Nielson hit a smooth-as-butter jumper.
That put the Redmen up five with two minutes left.
The Tigers, however, refused to relent. Austen Beatty drove into the key and flipped a pass over his shoulder to a wide-open Reagan Hinton on the block for an easy lay-up.
Then James Bennion took the ball right out of the hands of a Cedar player and raced for a lay-up to make it 49-48 Cedar with 58 seconds left.
From there, Brown and Nielson hit four straight free throws to put the game away.
Brown credited the Redmen’s defense for weathering the Tiger onslaught.
“We were up by 12, and I looked up, and we were only up by five,” Brown said. “It happened all of a sudden. When you have a change like that, you’ve got to tighten down defensively.”
So what adjustment did Cedar make defensively?
“We had to get on their shooters,” Brown said. “They’re a good 3-point shooting team. They shot the ball really well.”
Brown was responsible for the big lead Cedar built. Brown hit two treys as part of a 13-2 Cedar run that first ballooned its lead to double digits.
“We were just rolling in the first quarter,” Brown said. “We were sharing the ball. We were getting good shots. Everyone was contributing.”
Brown scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.
“We’ve been waiting for Ben to play like that all year,” said Cedar coach Craig Cardon. “I’m glad it happened now rather than waiting for the end of the season. If we can now just have a game where Ben has a big day, and Keenan has a big day, and Kyle (Wood) has a big day, we’ll be a load.”
With the win Cedar is now 3-0 on the road in region play. The Redmen, though, know the challenge is to replicate their road success when they play at home. The Reds lost the only region home game they’ve had this season to Dixie.
Cedar gets its next crack at a home win when they host Pine View on Wednesday.
“That’s a tough matchup for us,” Cardon said. “They’ve got people we don’t have. They’ve got some big players, so we’ll kick them in the shins and hope for the best.”