Ogden • Haley Bodnar loved that Snow Canyon kept trying to attack the basket through her in the early going Friday.
Bodnar, Desert Hills’ 6-foot-3 center, stood her ground and gobbled up the shots.
Class 3A state title game
Saturday at Weber State
5 p.m. » Dixie vs. Desert Hills
The Thunder junior finished with nine blocks in her team’s 40-30 victory over defending state champion Snow Canyon in a Class 3A state semifinal.
"There’s not a better feeling than getting a blocked shot, for sure," Bodnar said. "Defense is my favorite."
Desert Hills’ defense suffocated Snow Canyon and forced the Warriors to shoot 18 percent from the field at the Dee Events Center.
"That’s our big thing — defense," Bodnar said. "We work so hard on it. That’s the main focus during practices. We just went out and do how we usually do."
Friday was the second consecutive defensive lockdown in as many days for the Thunder. Desert Hills held Morgan to 11.8 percent from the field in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
"We’re the No. 1 scoring defense in the state," Desert Hills coach Chris Allred said. "We take a lot of pride. We work really hard on our defense."
Desert Hills guard Blair Bliss offered a simple explanation for her team’s defensive gem against the Warriors. It came down to slowing down Snow Canyon’s Amy Harris and Grace Walton, who combined for 17 points on 4-of-27 shooting.
"We know Amy likes to walk up and hit her 3s," Bliss said. "We weren’t going to let her do that, and we knew that. And Walton likes to drive and we knew stop her drive, and then our post could take care of their post. That’s all we needed."
Desert Hills needed to lean on its defense in the fourth quarter because its free throws weren’t falling. The Thunder started the final quarter 5 of 12 from the line, including misses on the front end of two 1and-1s, to keep alive Snow Canyon’s chances.
"See these gray hairs, I didn’t have half of them before the night," Allred said. "We’re a pretty good free-throw shooting team when we have to make them. So I knew that they had to keep fouling us, so we’d make some shots."
But Snow Canyon couldn’t maneuver around the Thunder’s defense to take advantage. The closest Snow Canyon got in the final quarter was seven points.
"I never got nervous in the fourth quarter," Bliss said. "I knew if our defense stayed good, we could do it and our free throws will eventually fall, you know? We practice them all season, so we’ve done our part on that."
Desert Hills will face fellow Region 9 foe Dixie in Saturday’s 5 p.m. title game. The Thunder beat the Flyers both times they played this season.
"I think we’re going to celebrate this for about an hour, then it’s all Dixie," Bliss said.
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