Draper • The odds were stacked against Dixie’s girls’ basketball team in its Class 3A playoff opener Saturday at Region 10 champion Juan Diego.
But the Flyers proved anything is possible in the playoffs.
Dixie limited Juan Diego to 10 points or fewer in three quarters and held the lead for all but two stretches to stun the Soaring Eagle 51-39. The win marks the Flyers’ first trip to the second round of playoffs since the 2006-2007 season.
"It was a four-point lead at one point and everyone wanted it so badly," Dixie’s Caroline Lantor said. "We hadn’t hit our peak all season, but today was just a glimpse of what we’re capable of. I guess it’s just perfect timing."
Dixie advances to Thursday’s quarterfinal at Weber State University.
As the No. 4 seed from Region 9, Dixie (15-7) began its day with the long bus ride from St. George, and the trip proved worthwhile. The Flyers held the Soaring Eagle (19-3) to 17 points below their scoring average for the season.
Lantor, a senior transfer from Albuquerque, N.M., scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to send the Flyers on their way.
"People take us as the underdog, but we’re here to play and win," Lantor said. "It’s a confidence booster knowing how good Juan Diego is. We got this one out of the way and now we’re ready for the next round."
The Flyers led 31-17 midway through the third quarter before the Soaring Eagle used a 16-6 run to pull within four points with 5 minutes, 34 seconds left to play. Dixie answered with a 14-6 run to end the game, with 12 points coming on free throws.
The game was a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff game, which Juan Diego won 43-35 despite trailing entering the fourth quarter. That memory weighed heavily on the minds of Flyer coaches and players Saturday.
"I can’t deny that helped set us up psychologically," Dixie coach Ken Robinson said. "They remember that game and wanting a second chance at them. That put a little extra spurt in them. I’m really proud of the girls, especially on the defensive end. Juan Diego wasn’t able to get [transition] points off their press."
The Soaring Eagle, who came in averaging 56 points per game, trailed 24-14 at halftime and made just 10 field goals in the game. Mistakes proved costly, as Juan Diego committed 17 turnovers and 19 fouls, which led to 32 free-throw attempts.
Juan Diego, which had won eight consecutive games, held its only leads in the first quarter (8-6 and 10-8) and never was able to get into a rhythm.
"We changed up what we were doing [defensively] and it kept them a little bit off-balanced," Robinson said.
Kelsey McCann scored nine of her 13 points in the first half for Dixie, while Aubri Challis added eight of her 10 points in the second half. Juan Diego’s Monique Mills led all scorers with 17 points and eight rebounds. Marlee Machon and Melanie Mecham both scored seven points for the Soaring Eagle.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.