CEDAR CITY — The Sky View Bobcats defeated region rival Bear River 64-59 to capture the 4A state championship at Southern Utah University in Cedar City Saturday night.
It was the third time this season the teams had played each other. The Bobcats had defeated the Bears 83-69 at home on Jan. 16 and 77-52 at Bear River on Feb. 6.
Although those two games were both blowouts, Saturday’s title matchup was a closely fought battle.
Both teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter, which ended on a tip-in at the buzzer by Sky View center Sam Phipps that gave the Bobcats a 16-14 lead.
Bear River then started the second quarter on an 8-0 run to make it 22-16 for the Bears, but Sky View answered by scoring the next five points. From that point on, the teams stayed within a basket or two of each other until the halftime break. Bear River held a 36-34 advantage at that point.
Sky View started to pull away in the latter half of the third. Phipps scored 12 of his game-high 23 points that period, including two slam dunks. The Bobcats entered the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, 54-48.
Bear River then went on a 7-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter, with Mark Huber tying the game at 55-55 on a putback after a missed 3-pointer with 6:10 remaining.
However, Sky View ramped up its defense down the stretch, making several defensive stops, including multiple steals and blocked shots.
Phipps made another dunk to put the Bobcats ahead 61-57 with 1:50 left, and neither team made another field goal from that point on, as the Bears m
issed their last several shots. Huber did convert a pair of free throws with 8 seconds left to account for the final margin.
In addition to Phipps’ 23 points, Mason Falslev added 17 and Cole Deboard made 13 for Sky View.
The Bears were led by Ren Fonnesbeck’s 17 points, with fellow guards Kelton Summers and Parker Coombs adding 13 and 11, respectively. Combined, the trio made a total of 10 3-pointers.
Following the game, Sky View’s players and coaches were joined by throngs of fans on the court celebrating the win, which was the Bobcats’ third boys basketball state title and the first since 2013.
Sky View ended its season with a 16-9 overall record, while Bear River finished 21-7, including the three losses to the Bobcats.
Second-seeded Bear River had completed its Region 12 slate with a 7-3 record, with two of those region losses at the hands of Sky View. Meanwhile, the Bobcats finished 6-4 in region play and tied for third place, but were actually the region’s No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
Both teams had posted impressive wins during the first two days of the state tournament, which was staged at Southern Utah University’s America First Event Center.
Bear River blew past top-seeded Orem 80-56 in Thursday’s quarterfinals, then narrowly edged past Bonneville 50-49 Friday night, as the Lakers missed a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer. Sky View, meanwhile, had beaten Dixie 58-48 on Thursday, after which they tamed the Payson Lions 70-60 in Friday’s semifinals.
Jeff Richards is a reporter for stgeorgenews.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org