ST. GEORGE – Pine View beat Snow Canyon in another frustrating thriller to add to the two teams’ history of playing against each other in exasperating matchups — this time at Burns Arena.
The Panthers (14-2, 5-2) held on for a 44-40 victory over the Warriors (6-9, 2-5) after they led by eight with under a minute to go. Justin Loveless scored a layup on a pass from Jacob Frei, and Brad Grisenti drained a corner 3-pointer, and suddenly the Warriors trailed just 43-40 with 16 seconds left. Garrett Bowker made one of two free throws at the other end for a two-possession game, and the Panthers seized victory.
“These kids work hard,” Pine View coach Darrell Larsen said. “They do a tremendous job preparing right. Snow Canyon is better than their record shows. They won’t quit, and neither will our kids, so I knew it would be a close fight. I believe you have to deserve to win, and our team does.”
The Panthers focused on chasing the Warriors off the 3-point line, Pine View forward Jed Newby said.
“Our defense wins games,” Newby said. “If we get stops on defense, then our offense comes. (The Warriors) were doing switches, so our coaches reminded us to communicate on their screens. Once we made them dribble they started missing.”
Snow Canyon grasped the lead three different times during the third quarter. Kade Potter drilled two different 3-points, sandwiching a 3-pointer by Pine View’s Carter Milne. The aftermath of the shots from behind the arc resulted in a 29-28 lead for the Warriors.
Loveless hit two free throws for a 32-30 lead with time winding down. Then, Bowker knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 33-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“We were much improved defensively,” Snow Canyon coach James Brown said. “I’m not sure if it was our defense that shut (the Panthers) down, or just an off night for them, but we ought to win holding a team to 44 points.”
Brown said missed free throws hurt the Warriors down the stretch.
“We’re a team that can’t afford to make mistakes,” Brown said. “We can’t let opportunities slip away from us.”
Brock Staheli and TJ Taimi led the Warriors with three steals apiece, but they weren’t enough to overcome the scoring of Kody Wilstead with 14 points and Newby with 10 points. Wilstead blocked two shots and stole the ball away three times to go along with leading the Panthers in scoring.
Snow Canyon shot decently from long range — 37.5 percent. But, it couldn’t overcome an inability to score inside the arc, ending the night at 34.1 percent total from the field.
Loveless and Grisenti both led Snow Canyon with 10 points each.
Brown said the Warriors are still learning how to best get Loveless open chances at the basket.
“Kody’s length bothers him,” Brown said. “Justin’s not a back-him-down-in-the-paint kind of player. That’s why we try to get him the ball when he’s on the move.”
Pine View, on the flip side, scored on just about everything it shot. The Panthers shot 56.2 percent from the field. However, they turned the ball over 15 times and shot 38.5 percent from the free throw line.
“Free throws are a problem right now,” Larsen said. He then joked to Newby standing in the Burns Arena hall next to him. “Newby said he’s going to spend hours in the gym tomorrow shooting free throws.”
Follow Richard Briggs on Twitter, @BriggsRich.