Thunder strikes Flyers and advances to finals

Desert Hills Thunder take Dixie Flyers at Burns Arena, St. George, UT Feb. 24, 2012 | Photo by Todd Tischler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Desert Hills Thunder used a thunderous Tyler Ott dunk and rode the momentum to a 55-51 win over the Dixie Flyers Friday night at the Burns Arena.

With the win, the Thunder advance to the State Championship game to take on the Hurricane Tigers today, Feb. 25 at 1:30 p.m..

The Thunder jumped out to an early lead and it looked like they would be too much for the Flyers to handle. The Thunder led by eight after the first quarter, and by seven at the half.

The Flyers were led by Walker Swenson who scored a career high 26 points, including 14 points in the first half. Swenson scored eight of the nine first quarter points for the Flyers.

The Flyers went on a run in the second quarter to cut the Thunder lead to two points; but back to back-to-back 3-point baskets for the Thunder pushed the lead back to double digits.

Once again the Thunder roll players stepped up huge with Jaden Beckstrand scoring 12 points and Ty Rutledge adding eight points. Brandon Simister was held to just six points for the Thunder.

The second half started much like the first half ended: The Flyers started making a run and got the Thunder lead down to two points again.

The Flyer run was ended after the Thunder got an offensive rebound and made the put back. The Thunder would continue to roll, going on a 6-0 run and pushing their lead back to eight points. The Flyers did add a basket to cut the Thunder lead to 6 after the third quarter.

The fourth quarter started with another Flyer run and after a Swenson 3-point basket the Thunder lead was down to 1.

The Flyers would tie the game up at 43 with 6:26 remaining in the game. The Flyers got a stop and had a chance for their first lead of the night, but Flyer guard Brandon Pledger turned the ball over and Ott was off to the races.

The Flyers’ Kyler Smith was the only player that had a chance to run Ott  down. Smith gave it his all to try and block Ott but he had no chance as Ott threw down the huge dunk and the Burns Arena went crazy!

Flyer coach Ryan Cuff called a timeout to help calm the crowd down, the timeout worked.

Swenson scored his 26th point with 2:42 left in the game and the Flyers took a one-point lead. It was the first and only lead the Flyers saw.

On the next possession, Ott got to the basket and scored to give back the lead to the Thunder.

The Flyers turned the ball over three times in the final minute but still had their chances.

The Flyers fouled and sent Simister to the line, with 11 seconds to play and the Thunder up by two. Simister, considered the best free throw shooter in Region 9, made the first but missed the second.

The Flyers had a chance at the ball but cold not corral it in and Beckstrand grabbed the rebound. Beckstrand missed the first but made the second to push the Thunder lead to four.

Beckstrand went 6-7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

The Flyers rushed down the floor and put up a shot but it was off the mark and the Thunder escaped with the win.

Ott led the way for the Thunder scoring 20 points in the ball game.

Deshon Brown added 12 points and Devin Bennett chipped in nine points for the Flyers, who fought till the final second.

The Flyers fall to the third place game at Pine View High School at 11:00 a.m. today, Feb. 25, against Cedar.

The Thunder split their regular season meeting with the Tigers.

For more on the 3A state tournament tune into Blake’s Take weekdays from 5-6 p.m. on KZNU Sports Radio – 96.7 FM 1450 AM – or online streaming live on the brand new KZNU Sports website:

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Copyright 2012 St. George News

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