St. George • Hurricane turned the Class 3A boys basketball tournament into a Region 9 round robin Thursday by upsetting Region 11 champion Morgan 54-43.
The Tigers joined Region 9 champion Desert Hills, third-place Cedar City and fourth- place Dixie in Friday’s semifinals at Dixie State College.
Hurricane coach Brian Vaifanua called his league extremely tough.
“Region 9 is solid from one to four,” he said. “But nothing came easy for us or any of the other teams that played today. We had to finish what we started.”
The league is having an impressive run with Cedar knocking off Region 12 champion Payson earlier Thursday and Dixie shocking Judge in a play-in game in Salt Lake City last week.
But Vaifanua was correct. This win didn’t come easily.
Morgan used a blistering, physical press to keep it close, moving to within four points late in the game. But the Tigers refused to panic in the face of relentless pressure.
“We were in a situation where our kids needed to make the adjustment and needed to figure things out,” said the Hurricane coach. “We did a good job.”
Morgan struggled early, managing only 14 points in the first half and falling behind by double digits. But a 16-point third quarter kept things competitive.
Colton Marshall led Hurricane with 15 points, while Benson Rich and Taylor Parker each added 11. Boston Saunders scored 13 and Jacob Miles added 11 for the Trojans.
Hurricane now meets Cedar City in Friday’s 9:10 p.m. nightcap.
In other 3A games
Cedar City 54, Payson 38 •Trent Snow, Breylin Blackner, Kyler Nelson and John Ursua all scored in double figures as Cedar City shocked Region 12 champion Payson. Payson was hurt when starters Clint Bateman and Tanner Newbold fouled out. Snow set the defensive tone early for Cedar City by blocking four shots in the first quarter.
“After you get a couple of blocks, it’s kind of hard to take it back at him,” said Cedar coach Craig Cardon, who is hoping to give his school its first boys basketball title since 1995.
Dixie 52, Delta 43 • Dixie, Region Nine’s fourth-place team, officially became the tournament’s biggest surprise by beating Delta behind Deshon Brown’s 19 points. Dixie led much of the way, but Delta put a scare into the Flyers midway through the fourth quarter, coming to within two points at 34-32. But Dixie, coached by former Richfield high great Ryan Cuff, went on a 9-0 run keyed by a 3-point basket from Devin Bennett, to put it away.
Desert Hills 55, Ben Lomond 41 • Desert Hills became the only league champion to advance to the semifinals but it wasn’t easy, at least for a half. The Thunder trailed at the end of the first quarter and were tied at half, but took control with a 16-8 third quarter run. Josh Anderson led the Desert Hills charge by scoring 10 of his game-high 17 points in that final period.