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High school boys basketball: Dixie Flyers live out their dreams, upset Sky View to win 4A state title

Dixie celebrates after winning the 4A boys basketball championship title at the Dee Events Center in Ogden on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Dixie celebrates after winning the 4A boys basketball championship title at the Dee Events Center in Ogden on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

OGDEN — Picture the ideal state championship game in your mind — what does it look like?

It is probably a back-and-forth affair, with no large leads or crazy runs, just two teams as evenly matched as they come, trading blow after blow. There are likely some clutch plays made down the stretch on both sides with unheralded players and stars alike making their presence felt in the most important game of their lives. The stands are of course filled with rabid fans — for better or for worse — and every single possession feels like the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The thing is, those championship games rarely happen. More often than not, the title game is a blowout where one team is just better than the other. That is part of the reason those barnburners are so special.

Saturday afternoon at the Dee Events Center at Weber State University, the Dixie Flyers and Sky View Bobcats battled for the 4A state championship, and it was something special.

For 32 minutes, the Flyers and Bobcats were as evenly matched teams as you could find. Dixie’s largest lead was just seven, an advantage that disappeared almost as soon as it was created. Sky View led by as many as four, and the teams swapped leads 13 times and tied 11 times.

Sky View star Mason Falslev proved nearly unstoppable, and finished with a game-high 22 points, while Dixie stars Isaac Finlinson and Noah Lemke each scored 17 points. Then there were the lesser known players, like Dixie’s Andy Rich or Sky View’s Taydem Neal, who made play after play with the game in the balance.

It was the type of the game that you didn’t want to end, but there had to be a victor, and after a 3-point attempt by Sky View’s Sam Phipps fell harmlessly to the floor as the final buzzer sounded, that winner was Dixie.

The Flyers defeated Sky View 62-59 to win the school’s first state title since 2016. The victory capped off a nearly flawless season and felt like something out of a storybook or ESPN 30-for-30 special.

“It was probably the funnest game I’ve ever played in,” Rich said. “Sky View is a great, great team and so we knew it would be competitive. We just wanted to come in and fight hard and that is what we did. This is the stuff you dream of. It is just awesome to get it done, to come away with it.”

Dixie head coach Tyler Roberts was practically incredulous afterward, saying, “Of course you dream about it. I played for it my senior year and lost against Lehi. To get back here and have that opportunity to win a state championship and bring one home to Dixie High School is really amazing right now.”

The victory validated a season’s worth of hard work, if not more, as the Flyers were eliminated by the Bobcats in last year’s state tournament, a loss they never quite forgot.

“You can’t put it into words,” Dixie senior Jordan Matthews said. “It is crazy. All the hard work, all the long practices, you just can’t put it into words.”

Both teams had to endure and overcome all manner of challenges throughout the game. Falslev missed large chunks of time with foul trouble, and then fouled out with four minutes to go. Dixie’s Ethan Bennett also fouled out, to say nothing of missed free throws — the teams combined to miss seven in the final two minutes — and missed opportunities.

The game’s defining play came with 10 seconds remaining. Dixie led 61-59, but Sky View had possession of the ball just above the 3-point line. The Bobcats moved the ball well enough as they hunted for what they surely thought would be the game-deciding shot, but Rich jumped a passing lane and stole the ball from Titan Saxton. It was a fitting play for the top-ranked defense in the classification, and in the end the game-winning play.

“Sky View is a really good team. They are really good at getting into the paint and have shooters, so you just have to go stick to the game plan and try to get it done,” Rich said.

That is the thing about this Dixie team. All year long they’ve done whatever it took to get it done, and now they are state champs.

“For our guys to do what we did, it took an absolute buy-in of the team,” Roberts said. “We came together as a family. It is called the Fly Fam. That is who we are, and it is a bunch of individuals coming together for a team, for a family. That is what we preached all year and that is what they did.”

Deseret News 4A All-Tournament Team

  • MVP — Noah Lemke, Dixie
  • Mason Chase, Desert Hills
  • Mason Falslev, Sky View
  • Isaac Finlinson, Dixie
  • Jackson Schumann, Sky View
  • Talon Valdes, Juan Diego