ST. GEORGE — This time, Dixie didn't need a miraculous comeback.
A week after stunning Judge in the first round with a rally in the waning minutes, Dixie enjoyed a much more comfortable victory in the 3A quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
The Flyers jumped out to an early lead at neighboring Dixie State College and never relinquished it, advancing to the 3A semifinals with a 52-43 victory over Delta.
The Region 9 No. 4 seed will next face Region 9 champion Desert Hills at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.
"We hope we're peaking at the right time. That first game here at the tournament can always be the scariest. Hopefully we get a feel for the atmosphere and everything that's going on right now and enjoy the moment," said Dixie coach Ryan Cuff.
Underdog Delta did a great job keeping the game close despite a noticeable size difference inside. It even had Dixie sweating it a bit midway through the fourth quarter.
Trailing 34-26 after three, the Rabbits capitalized on a couple Dixie turnovers to whittle the lead to 36-32 with 5:48 remaining. Delta missed a layup that could've cut the deficit to two, and Dixie responded with a 9-0 run that essentially put the game out of reach.
Devin Bennett kick-started the rally with five quick points to put Dixie ahead 41-32. It was his eight points in a 58-second span against Judge that spearheaded the first-round victory.
"We knew they were going to put a lot of pressure on us. Their guards are tough, and feisty and never quit. We got up on them a couple times and they kept coming back," said Cuff.
Dixie made 11 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, and finished the game making 15 of 17. Delta meanwhile struggled from the line, making only 12 of 25.
DeShon Brown led Dixie with 19 points, including 6-of-6 shooting from the line. He's scored in double figures in three straight games.
"He really wants it. He's realizing it's at the end. Early in the season he was just settling into the comfort zone, and I think he's feeling that. He's kind of feeling that, you lose you're done," said Cuff.
Dixie lost to Desert Hills twice during the regular season, 52-49 and 53-46. Patience is the key to preventing a similar outcome.
"Desert Hills plays extremely well together, they play a lot of bodies. We have to be able to play smarter, be more patient, get the ball inside again. Utilize the inside outside game," said Cuff. "You don't have to say too much to get these guys ready for this ball game. That's the fun part about it 'cause they've been beat by these guys twice."
Kyle Church led Delta in the loss with 15 points.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company