WEST VALLEY CITY – The coyotes and bats almost came out of their dens to see the end of this one.
Dixie and Desert Hills played in a quadruple overtime classic in their state semifinal game, ending with the Flyers winning 79-72 to advance to Saturday’s state championship game.
The Thunder’s Quincy Mathews fouled out with 1:18 to go in double overtime, and the Flyers hang on in the triple and quadruple overtime periods to pull out the semifinal win.
“Of course we were tired, but we still had the energy to play together and pull it out,” Dixie senior guard R.J. Wilgar said. “That was the longest game I’ve ever played in.”
Marcus McKone nailed a 3-pointer coming off a screen set by Austin Adams to make the score 73-72 in the fourth overtime period, but that was the last time the Thunder scored. Jake Hawes missed a shot that Logan Hokanson rebounded, but lost out of bounds. Retaining possession, Tyler Bennett scored to put Dixie up by three.
Desert Hills had one last chance to either cut the lead to one or tie it with 23.1 seconds remaining, but Bennett stole the ball away and was fouled with 13.9 left. He nailed both free throws, and the Flyers closed out the win.
“We knew it was do or die if we wanted to continue,” Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff said. “There was nothing else on our mind except Desert Hills. We respect them and their coaches. I’m proud of our guys for going as long as they did, and I know we’ll recover and do the right things and be ready to go tomorrow for a great Pine View team.”
Each team had a chance at the end of regulation and the overtime periods to put the game away. Wilgar scored with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 50. Desert Hills didn’t convert on the final possession.
Dixie led 56-52 with 59 seconds left in the first overtime period. McKone dribbled through Wilgar, drawing a blocking foul. He went to the line and made both free throws. Max Mills then stole the ball in transition from Bennett with the Flyers coming down on offense. Bennett fouled McKone away from the ball, and McKone buried both of those free throws to tie the game at 56. That sent it into double overtime.
The Flyers held a 64-61 lead with under a minute to play in the second overtime period after Izaic Blazzard nailed two free throws. But on the other end, Blazzard fouled Desert Hills’ Tanner Leishman in the paint. Leishman’s shot attempt—essentially a shot put—banked in. Leishman hit the free throw to tie the game at 64.
On they went to overtime No. 3.
The Flyers led 69-67, and the Thunder had the ball underneath their own basket. Adams caught the inbound pass at the baseline, turned and shot. He sank the basket to tie the score at 69 with 40 seconds left.
Dixie drained the clock all the way down to less than 10 seconds. Wilgar drove through the lane and went up with a layup that would’ve sent the Flyers to the title game, but Leishman swooped in and swatted it away. The ball rolled out of bounds with 1.8 seconds on the clock. The Flyers didn’t convert in that time and they went to quadruple overtime—where they finally finished off the Thunder that battled back in every period.
What eventually worked for Dixie was its conditioning, Dixie senior guard Jake Hawes said.
“We ran a lot in the preseason so we were ready for this kind of game,” Hawes said. “R.J., Malachi and Izaic, they’re all energy guys. They could run around for five hours straight.”
But the Flyers have an immediate turnaround just 15 hours after their semifinal game ended.
“We’ve got to get rest, get food in us, sleep in as long as we can, and be ready,” Hawes said.
Bennett led the Flyers in scoring with 22 points, followed by Wilgar with 20 and Hawes with 18. McKone led the Thunder with 25 points, followed by Leishman with 15 and Mathews with 14. Leishman also grabbed 11 rebounds, the only player on either team with double-digit boards.
Follow Richard Briggs on Twitter, @BriggsRich.