Payson 51, Desert Hills 40

It wasn’t as easy as they had hoped it would be, but the Payson Lions found a way to get past a tough Desert Hills Thunder team Monday night, coming away with a 51-40 victory to advance to the semifinals of the 4A girls state basketball tournament.

Several players led the Payson offense, including Cheznie Roundy, Oaklie Jackman and Averie Roundy, who contributed 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Both teams got off to an incredibly slow start, with Payson scoring just a single point in the opening quarter. Payson head coach Chad Bahr says his team was a little tentative to start the game because of the magnitude and what was at stake.

“We got off to a slow start, but I think the girls were able to finally settle in,” Bahr said. “It has been 20 years since the Lady Lions have been in this situation. This is their first run in the big show, under the big lights.

“I think they came out a little shellshocked and not like themselves. You could tell that we were a little tentative, but we finally settled in and we started to guard. When we are guarding it really is able to ignite our offense.”

Even though his team had a sluggish start to the game, Bahr knew that if it could stick together defensively, the buckets would come.

Payson was able to hold Desert Hills to just nine points in the final quarter, allowing the offense to do its job and pull away, as the lead swelled to double digits late.

“This team can get buckets in bunches. If we get down by a bit, we just have to settle in and good things will happen. The thing have to continue to preach is defending,” Bahr said.

In the losing effort, Desert Hills was led in scoring by Hannah Heaton, who put up 12 points, and Tess Peterson added 10.

Next up for Payson is a date in the semifinals with the tournament’s top seed, Ridgeline.

“In my opinion I don’t think we played great,” Bahr said. “I think we can play a lot better, and we’re going to have to for sure.

“We just beat a really solid and deep team. We had some superstar juniors and seniors that came in and made some big plays when we needed it most.”

Ridgeline 66, Dixie 22

The last time Ridgeline and Dixie faced off was during the 4A quarterfinals in 2022, a 56-25 win for Ridgeline as Emilee Skinner and Elise Livingston led the way for Ridgeline en route to a championship appearance. 

Monday was a similar story as Skinner and Livingston came out hot to take down the Flyers. Defending 4A champion Ridgeline led by 12 after one quarter and by 27 at the half and then cruised to a 66-22 victory. 

The suffocating Ridgeline defense held Dixie to just 22 points, well below its season average of 48.4.

“That’s how we roll. One of the big things we try to do is play tough defense.” Ridgeline head coach Ainsli Jenks said. “It’s something that we really focus on and the girls buy-in and they do a good job.”

That defense was key Monday, as the Riverhawks didn’t allow Dixie to score double digits in any of the four quarters, including holding it to just three points in the first.

The Ridgeline offense started a little slow but picked up halfway through the first quarter when Skinner scored six straight points to get it going for Ridgeline.

Skinner finished the game with 22 points to lead the Riverhawks, while Livingston contributed 15 and Macie Brown added 11.

Kealah Faumuina led the scoring for Dixie with 10, six of which came within the first two minutes of the second half.

“Offensively I think the girls had to be patient. (Dixie) kept switching defense and we were struggling a little trying to figure out where some holes were,” Jenks said.

That patience paid off against a tough Dixie defense to the tune of 66 points, including three 3-pointers for Livingston.

With the win, Ridgeline secured a spot in the semifinals on its quest to repeat as 4A champions.

Snow Canyon 52, Sky View 40

Led by junior guard Olivia Hamlin, Snow Canyon was able to get past Sky View in the 4A girls quarterfinals 52-40 on Monday.

It wasn’t easy for Snow Canyon. Sky View kept it close throughout, with the game seeing constant lead changes and momentum swings.

Trailing 21-18 at halftime, Snow Canyon coach Sue Hoskins had a strong message for her team.

“I said you’re not playing like you know how to play. You need to go after it and get aggressive. We need to get some steals, generate energy, and come out and be aggressive,” said Haskins.

One player who certainly took that message to heart was Hamlin. Hitting clutch shot after clutch and creating turnovers in key moments, Hamlin took the game over in the second half, helping her team pull away and willing it to victory.

“The first half was a little slow. In the second half we picked up the energy, started hitting some shots. It was just a lot of fun,” Hamlin said.

“At halftime coach said we just got to push the ball a little bit more because we were kind of forcing things a little bit. We picked it up in the second half and I’m really proud of our team.”

Haskins was thoroughly impressed with the production that she got out of Hamlin.

“Olivia is such a good player. Her shots bring so much energy and she plays with a lot of confidence. She just keeps at it, whether things are going good or bad no matter what,” said Haskins.

Next up for Snow Canyon is a third matchup with Cedar City, an opponent it has beaten twice already.

Both Hamlin and Haskins know that defeating them for the third time will be no easy task.

“I’m excited. It’s definitely going to be a tough game. It’s hard to beat a team three times so they’re going to be tough,” said Hamlin.

Haskins knows that if Snow Canyon is going to make it past Cedar City and have shot at the championship, it will need to be ready to go, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“I still think our zone is the key,” she said. “We’ve been really successful with that, especially the two times we have played them.

“We definitely have to rebound against Cedar. They’re a really good rebounding team but I like our options.”

Cedar City 59, Green Canyon 54

In the quarterfinals of the 4A girls state basketball tournament Monday, a strong first half for Cedar City proved to be the difference in the game, as the Reds defeated Green Canyon 59-54.

It was a tale of two halves. The first half was dominated by Cedar City on both sides of the ball, as the Reds took what appeared to be a comfortable 37-14 lead into the halftime break.

“In the first half, we had a pretty good idea of what they were doing,” Cedar City head coach Cory Nielsen said. “We took away what they wanted to do. Offensively we were efficient and had some key players able to get to the rim. The basket looks a lot bigger when you’re up by 20.

“When you find yourselves in a tight game like we did in the second half, the basket looks so tiny and we experienced that tonight.”

Green Canyon came out in the second half determined to cut into the lead and make it a game. The Wolves were able to hold Cedar City to 22 points in the half while stepping things up on the offensive end and eventually were able to fight and claw their way back into the game.

“Green Canyon came up with a lot more energy, got some turnovers and we got in a little foul trouble,” Nielsen said. “They had the momentum to start the second half and once you have that momentum, it’s hard to stop.

“We had a real struggle to try to stop them in the second half. Down the stretch though we had some players make some clutch foul shots for us.”

While things got better for Green Canyon, even cutting Cedar City’s lead to as little as a single point, the halftime deficit proved to be too much.

“I think the problem we had, and it was kind of my fault, was that we played not to lose and we didn’t play to win the game,” Nielsen said. “We were afraid to go play in the second half.

“We have to trust our offense and we have to play the whole game. I don’t think we did that in the third and fourth (quarters). We were playing more tentatively and scared. That is what happens when you have a young team like we do.”

Ultimately, Cedar City was able to make a number of clutch free throws down the stretch, securing a spot in the semifinals.