Boys Basketball Schedule

Dixie 47, Hurricane 45 1/12/2018

Dixie 47, Hurricane 45 1/12/2018
Don’t think free throws are important? Consider this: Dixie won by two points after hitting 10 out of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. Hurricane lost by two points as the Tigers hit just 6 of 12 from the line in the final period. When things were really tight, in the final 2 1/2 minutes, the Tigers made just 3 of 8 charity shots.

“We talked about it at halftime, that when it comes down to the end in these crucial games, it always comes down to making free throws,” Dixie coach Ryan Cuff said. “We knew it was going to be a close finish, one or two points difference. I’m just pleased the guys stepped up and made them when we needed them to.”

It was a strange game as Hurricane dominated the first half and Dixie dominated the third quarter. But not surprisingly, as the final seconds dwindled away, it was a one-possession game.

Hurricane set up for a final shot in the closing seconds, down by just two. But Dixie kept Tigers star Jackson Last from getting the ball and a desperation trey by Matthew Meyers was off the mark as the Flyers survived.

“Defensively, we got what we wanted on that last possession,” Cuff said. “We made them take a difficult shot and we wanted anyone but Last taking that shot. We switched on every screen and I thought the guys really defended well at the end.”

Hurricane led by as many as 10 in the first half and when Adam Heyrend stroked a trey from the top of the key early in the third quarter, it was a 27-17 Tiger advantage.

But the next 3 1/2 minutes would belong to the Dixie blue. Derek Cox and Tanner Cuff each scored in the paint to make it 27-21 and Brody Henderson converted a Hurricane turnover into a pretty 3-pointer to cut it to 27-24. Another Tiger turnover led to a driving layup by Cuff, then Henderson stroked another deep ball to put the Flyers ahead for the first time in the game at 29-27 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.

“The referees were allowing the game to be really physical, so at halftime we made some adjustments,” Coach Cuff said. “We came out and were physical, too. We knew we had to match Hurricane’s toughness. Brody played really well for us. Those 3s he hit were big shots for us in helping us come back.”

Dixie pushed its advantage to 40-33 with 5:08 left in the game after a free throw by Henderson. Hurricane rallied behind Last, pulling to within 41-40 with 3:45 left after a 3-pointer by Meyers and a baseline jumper from Last.

Akili Prince answered at the other end for Dixie to make it 43-40 with 3:27 to go. At that point, free throws became the story of the game.

Hurricane went to the line for six straight free throws, with Heyrend, Meyers and Last combining to go just 2 for 6. That left Dixie still ahead at 43-42 with 1:40 to play. A tough layup in heavy traffic by Last gave the Tigers the lead back at 44-43 with 1:30 on the clock.

Tanner Cuff hit 1 of 2 freebies with 1:16 left to tie the game, but Cox rebounded the missed second free throw and was fouled. His ice-cold free throws put Dixie ahead 46-44.

Heyrend was fouled with 56 seconds left, but made just 1 of 2, and Henderson matched that on the other end with 28.1 seconds to play. That set the Tigers up for one last shot. After a timeout, Dixie defended the play well and Meyers’ deep 3 was off the mark.

“We’re very fortunate and happy that their last shot didn’t go in,” Coach Cuff said. “It wasn’t what we had planned, to have to make that big comeback. But I’m happy our guys kept their cool and didn’t panic. It was a battle and a fun atmosphere. Hopefully we can take a game like this and build on it and get better because of it.”

Dixie, 11-2 overall and 3-0 in region, had balanced scoring, with five players scoring at least five points each. Henderson led the way with 12 and Tanner Cuff had 10. Dixie made 5 of 12 3-pointers (42 percent) and hit 70 percent from the line (14 of 20).

Hurricane, 8-4 and 2-1, was led by Last’s 24 points. He also had 11 rebounds and two steals, while Heyrend had 11 points and a couple of rebounds. The Tigers ended up 6 for 16 from deep (38 percent) and made just 13 of 22 free throws (59 percent).

Dixie travels to Taylorsville Monday for a special Martin Luther King holiday exhibition. The Flyers will play Sky View, one of the top teams in 4A, at 1 p.m. at Salt Lake Community College. Dixie then returns to region play Wednesday with a home game vs. Snow Canyon.

Hurricane has a tough roadie next week with a Wednesday visit to Desert Hills, followed by a Friday home game against Cedar.