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High school girls basketball: Suffocating defense sends Desert Hills into 3A final

CEDAR CITY — You wanna know why Desert Hills might be impossible to beat? Cedar has your answer.

Cedar held Desert Hills to a season-low 49 points in Friday’s 3A girls semifinal at Southern Utah University yet still lost by 29 points. Cedar, which lost by 15 and 35 points earlier this year to Desert Hills, never really stood a chance.

The Thunder played suffocating defense from the opening tip, increasing their lead every quarter as they punched their ticket into the 3A championship game with a 49-20 victory.

“Defensively we played really well and we did a good job of contesting shots. We didn’t give up very many easy ones,” said Desert Hills coach Chris Allred.

The Thunder held Cedar to just 20 percent shooting from the field (8-of-39) and forced 19 turnovers.

“We love the defensive end, that’s what we work for all the time,” said Desert Hills senior center Haley Bodnar, who scored 12 points.

Friday’s performance was the 11th time this season Desert Hills held an opponent to under 30 points, and the third time it surrendered a season-low 20 points.

Its reward is a spot in Saturday’s 3A state championship against the Morgan-North Sanpete winner at 5 p.m. After losing in the final the last two years, Desert Hills is anxious to try to win the big trophy.

“We’re just excited. We’ve worked so hard and we’re really excited about this game,” said Bodnar.

Desert Hills wasted little time securing its spot in the championship, scoring on five of its first six possessions to take an early 10-4 lead. Blair Bliss accounted for five of those early points as she went on to lead all scorers with 17 points.

The Thunder ran into a bit of a scoring rut in the second quarter, making only 2-of-11 field goals, but they got back on track in the third quarter to pull away.

After Thursday’s disappointing effort in an easy quarterfinal win over Juab, Allred was pleased with how his team performed a day later.

“I thought today was a good bounce-back game for us, and yesterday they weren’t happy with that game and they wanted to come out and play a little better,” said Allred.