Cedar City • As Juan Diego tried to take the lead in the final 70 seconds of its rugged Class 3A boys’ basketball quarterfinal game Thursday at Southern Utah University, three Cedar City plays proved to be the difference.
First, Weston Bettridge stole the ball and outran the Soaring Eagle to give his team a 36-34 lead. Then Dustin Staggs came up with a great block. That set the stage for some big free throws by Kordan Nielson.
The result was a 40-35 victory that will give Cedar City the chance to play Region 9 rival Snow Canyon on Friday at 5:50 p.m. in the semifinals. The Warriors, who were league champions, beat fourth-place Cedar twice, winning each game by two points, in the regular season.
“You’ve gotta get those things going your way,” Cedar coach Craig Cardon said about the final 90 seconds of the hard-fought game. “I’m sure glad we had them today.”
Juan Diego coach Drew Trost said those three Cedar plays, coupled with a 3-point shot by Will Hoffler that went in and out and that could have been a 4-point play because Hoffler was fouled, were the turning points.
Staggs said his big blocked shot was somewhat planned. “I knew he was going to try and make it over me and try to do a hook,” said the Cedar center. “I was just waiting for him. It was right there, so I sent it back.”
This was an intense game and a defensive struggle. Both teams generated most of their offense off full-court pressures and steals. Neither team led by more than five points. The two teams combined for nine points in the second quarter. So it seemed inevitable that it would come down to the wire.
“That press was pretty aggressive,” said Nielson. “We just needed to be stronger with the ball and attack them more.”
Juan Diego missed point guard Gabriel Colosimo, its leading scorer and assist leader, who broke his leg in the final regular-season game.
“We got some good shots, but they didn’t fall,” said Trost. “Any time you don’t have your point guard, that hurts a lot.”
Snow Canyon 54, Richfield 36 • Snow Canyon blew the game open in the second half by exhibiting unselfish play. Nathan Gottfredson led the Warriors with 13 while Jacob Frei added 12. Brandon Willardson hit 14 for Richfield.
Payson 55, Pine View 48 • The Region 12 champion Lions trailed much of the way but took the lead for good when Brycen Wood stole the ball and hit a layup with 1:16 to play. Payson, which trailed by double digits early in the game, got 17 points from Daniel Reno and 13 each from Mark Wolf and Dallin Rowley. Chaz Peterson and Jack Bangerter each scored 12 for Pine View.
Morgan 67, Bear River 54 • The defending champs advanced to the semis by pulling away from the Bears in the fourth quarter. Matt Murdock led Morgan with 17 point; Garren Miles had 13. Stetson Summers scored 23 for the Bears; McKade Mitton added 16.
3A boys’ schedule
At SUU, Cedar City
• Snow Canyon 54,Richfield 36
• Cedar City 40, Juan Diego 35
• Payson 55, Pine View 48
• Morgan 67, Bear River 54
• Cedar City vs. Snow Canyon, 5:50 p.m.
• Morgan vs. Payson, 7:30 p.m.
• Semi winners, 7:30 p.m.