ST. GEORGE – Pine View won its first outright region title in 12 years Friday night, beating Cedar 55-52 in The Pit.
“It feels better than sharing it,” said Pine View star Kody Wilstead.
With the win, Pine View avoided a three-way tie for first that would have seen Pine View going on the road to start the first round of the playoffs. Instead, they’ll host North Sanpete next week.
In Region 9, nothing comes easy, and the title-clinching win was full of drama.
Cedar appeared to tie the game when Keenan Nielson hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left, but the Redmen bench had been awarded a timeout just a split second before Nielson got his shot off.
After the timeout, Pine View’s Kody Wilstead tipped the ball to teammate Jed Newby.
But after two missed free throws, Cedar again had the ball and a chance to tie, but Newby stole the ball to put the game away.
Earlier, Cedar rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit behind the determined play of Kyle Wood.
He scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the second-half.
“He was getting into the lane pretty easily, especially in the fourth” said Pine View’s Chaz Peterson. “He was hitting all his shots.”
Wood’s final points of the night put Cedar up 52-51 with 2:50 left in the game.
Then came the decisive possession. Pine View worked the ball around for 30 seconds, looking for a good opportunity.
Then Pine View point guard Chaz Peterson dribbled along the perimeter. Freed by a Wilstead screen, Peterson pulled up at the top of the 3-point line and fired the shot that proved to be the game winner.
“It’s clutch,” said Pine View coach Darrell Larsen. “Chaz has worked extremely hard. He hasn’t scored much for us this year because he’s been able to distribute more for us. For Chaz to be the one to hit the 3-point shot that wins us the region title, that’s a happy time for me and this program.”
Wilstead also played a pivotal role in the Panther win. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, as Pine View built a 42-32 lead.
“It’s the same thing that seems to happen to me every game,” Wilstead said. “I get in foul trouble and sit on the bench, thinking I’ve let my team down, and then I come out and play hard because I don’t want to let my team down.”
His most impressive play was a driving one-handed dunk with a Redman draped all over him.
“Kody’s always big for us,” Peterson said. “That dunk—he dunked it on someone’s head. I’ve never seen him do that before. He does things like that change momentum. He does the little things that make our team better.”
The story behind Pine View’s championship is one of clutch finishes and big performances: Peterson’s three on Friday, Garrett Bowker’s final second, game-winning 3-pointer at the Hangar two weeks ago, and Wilstead’s 33-point performance against Desert Hills.
Ultimately, though, Pine View won because they didn’t lose to the teams the region contenders were expected to beat. Pine View split with both Desert Hills and Dixie, but those teams also were upset at home by the two teams at the bottom of the region standings.
The Pine View student body wore red for Friday’s game to show support for a classmate who underwent open heart surgery this week.