I said right from the beginning that getting a home playoff game was our big focus. With the tournament down here this year, we felt it was crucial to get to play at home. —Snow Canyon head coach Wade Jensen
ST. GEORGE — Three weeks ago, Desert Hills center Haley Bodnar owned the paint and the Thunder owned Snow Canyon with a decisive Region 9 win.
It must have made the Warriors mad. Since that loss, Snow Canyon has reeled off six straight wins, including Thursday night's 52-49 road victory at Desert Hills.
Backup center Madison Gubler had a big game, pounding in the post with Bodnar and recording 12 points of her own, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
"With Megan Leavitt in foul trouble, we really needed a lift from our bench," Snow Canyon head coach Wade Jensen said. "Thank goodness we had Madi. She stepped up big-time."
Three-year starter Amy Harris also came up big, scoring 18 points and icing the game with four straight free throws in the game's final minute. She said her team has been anxiously anticipating this game since that loss in January.
"We've had some other tough opponents, but we really have been looking forward to this game," Harris said. "They got us back at our place and we wanted to show that we wouldn't let that happen again."
The win clinched the Region 9 title for the Warriors and assured them of a No. 1 seed and a home playoff game.
"I said right from the beginning that getting a home playoff game was our big focus," Jensen said. "With the tournament down here this year, we felt it was crucial to get to play at home."
The game was a nail-biter for the first three quarters, with Bodnar and Blair Bliss shouldering the load for the Thunder. Bodnar had 11 points at halftime and Bliss, the diminutive point guard, had notched seven.
But late in the third quarter, Snow Canyon's quickness and rebounding prowess started to take over.
Harris, Gubler, Autumn Shipp and Grace Walton all scored buckets as the Warriors turned a 34-33 game into a 43-34 edge. The 9-1 run started with a pair of free throws by Gubler in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Walton scored a layup to open the final period, then Shipp hit a 10-footer, Gubler scored two more from the line and Harris hit a freebie that made it a nine-point game with four minutes to play.
Neither team shot the ball well from the floor most of the game. Through three quarters, Desert Hills had hit just nine of its 37 shot attempts (24 percent) and Snow Canyon had made just 10 for 33 (30 percent).
But in the final stanza, the Lady Warriors made half of their shots from the field (3-6) and buried nine out of 12 free throws. Snow Canyon also outrebounded Desert Hills 43-35.
"I told them before the game that if we outrebounded Desert Hills, we would win this game," Jensen said. "They are a physical team, but I thought we handled the matchups pretty well."
Snow Canyon, 14-5 overall and 10-1 in region, finishes the regular season at Dixie Tuesday night.
The Thunder, 15-6 and 9-3, look to the playoffs next week, where they'll likely play a home game against Wasatch. Bodnar finished with 18 points and Bliss ended
up with 14, including a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game.
With Desert Hills out of timeouts, Snow Canyon did not even inbound the ball after the trey as the last two seconds rolled off the clock.