ST. GEORGE — The Snow Canyon High School boys basketball team is living proof: the third time’s a charm.

The Warriors beat Dixie 68-57 Monday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the 4A boys state tournament at Utah Valley University in Orem.

After double-digit losses to the No. 2 Flyers in the regular season, No. 7 Snow Canyon pulled off the upset behind 23 points from senior star Owen Mackay and a balanced, strong effort from his supporting cast.

“I kept saying this, the first two times we played them, we were right there with them,” said Snow Canyon coach Ryan Ball, who guided the team to the semifinal round in his first season on the bench.

Dixie’s Jordan Roberts drives against Snow Canyon in a 4A boys state basketball playoff game, Orem, Utah, Feb. 26, 2024 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

“We played well in the first half, but the first two times in the third quarter we let them get out in transition. We took quick shots and let them get out and run,” Ball added. “We didn’t do that today.”

Snow Canyon eked out a 29-28 lead at halftime on Monday and then avoided a third-quarter collapse behind senior Damon Ence, who canned three 3-pointers in the frame.

“We knew at halftime that we had to come out strong in the third quarter,” Ence said. “I was just getting open shots. My teammates were getting me open and I was hitting the shots.”

The Warriors ratcheted up the defense in that third quarter as well, holding Dixie to just 14 points and taking a 47-42 advantage into the fourth.

Senior Owen Iloa scored critical back-to-back buckets that forced a Dixie timeout with Snow Canyon ahead 55-44 with just over four minutes left.

After that, it was a matter of making free throws down the stretch and defending well. Snow Canyon did both.

“We’re just playing really well right now, moving the ball and getting good shots,” Ence said. “We know that’s a really good team (Dixie). And I think we’re just playing our game and not forcing things.”

Once again, Mackay led the way for the Warriors. After scoring 45 points in a second-round win over Mountain View, Mackay threw in a game-high 23 against Dixie.

“Owen is such a leader, both on and off the floor,” Ball said. “He gets other people involved, he plays his defense and he leads by example. He stays positive and everybody just loves seeing that from him.”

Snow Canyon’s Trey Kelsch drives against Dixie in a 4A boys state basketball playoff game, Orem, Utah, Feb. 26, 2024 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

Mackay had plenty of help as three other Warriors finished with double-digit scoring. Ence led the way with four 3-pointers and 14 points.

Owen Iloa had 13 points and Trey Kelsch scored 10 for the winners. Drey Smith netted two 3’s and seven points.

Dixie finished the season at 22-4 after posting back-to-back runner-up finishes at the state tournament the previous two years.

Breckon Robinson and Kyle Lemke scored 19 points apiece to pace the Flyers. Logan Wideaur scored nine, Jordan Roberts had six and Damon Meyers scored four.

Snow Canyon plays No. 6 Cottonwood in the semifinal round on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The Colts beat No. 3 Logan 52-48 in the last quarterfinal game to advance. 

Click here to see the complete brackets.

In earlier boys games Monday at the Utah Community Credit Union Center at UVU, No. 4 Green Canyon beat No. 5 Ridgeline 67-64 to win the Region 11 rematch.

And No. 1 Layton Christian Academy fended off No. 8 Murray, just avoiding the upset when the Eagles advanced to the semifinals after a 56-53 victory.

Green Canyon and LCA play in the first semifinal Tuesday evening at 5:50 p.m.

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