Holiday loss drives Red Storm to 2 consecutive victories

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Students traveled to numerous destinations to celebrate the holiday season, but the Dixie State College basketball teams celebrated the holiday season with its love of the game.

The Dixie State men’s basketball team had five games over the break, and it starts the spring semester off with a 9-4 record.

The team ended the break with a 69-57 win on the road against Cal Baptist University on Saturday.

The win was controlled by junior point guard Kimball Payne with his multiple assists that helped sophomore center Zach Robbins earn his fourth double-double, helped junior forward Dalton Groskreutz lead the team with 17 points, and helped sophomore guard De’Quan Thompson score in double figures for the third straight game with 11 points.

The team suffered a 63-67 loss earlier in the break against Pittsburg State University on Dec. 19.

Senior guard McKay Massey, a nursing major from Payson, said it was a close loss that the team could have won.

“We did good but not great,” Massey said. “The good thing is we controlled the game there at the end and we were in position to win.”

Junior forward Steven Larson, a communication major from South Jordan, said the loss against Pittsburg State gave the team the motivation to go out and win the next game.

“After we lost against Pittsburg State in the Las Vegas Tournament, everyone was just so angry, and we all promised each other that we would come back ready to go,” Larson said. “So as soon as everyone stepped back into the Burns Arena, everyone went in as hard as we could and we were ready to give it our all.”

The Red Storm then came back and faced Pacifica University in the Burns Arena on Jan. 2 and took a 125-55 win.

“It was that drive,” Larson said. “After the loss we were all so angry about it that we hate losing so much, and we want to send the message to everyone that we’re for real. So we came out and got the win.”

Dixie State set a single high record for most points in non-conference play. Larson led the team going 10-for-13 from the field and had a total of 24 points. Junior forward Curtis Papenfuss came off the bench and had his first career high that night with 20 points. Thompson helped with 15 points, Groskreutz had 15 points, Robbins had 12 points, senior forward Derek Owen had 10 points and a dunk, and Massey had 11 points.

Massey said the team is focusing mostly on defensive rebounding and running the ball to make sure it starts the spring semester off successfully.

“We just need to focus on those things each day in practice and in each game, and if we do that then everything else will take care of itself,” Massey said.

The team is looking forward to its next game against Grand Canyon University on Thursday, Jan. 10.

“[Grand Canyon] is what we’re most excited about,” Larson said. “This is the big tester, and we’re really hyped for it. It will be a good game for sure.”

Massey said GCU is always good competition.

“Grand Canyon is always a good team,” Massey said. “We lost to them last year so they’re going to be ready to play us, and we’ll be ready to play them.”

GCU is expected to be first in the conference while DSC follows close behind, so the team is focused on this game more than any other game this season.

“We just want to win,” Larson said. “It’s really the big tester of the conference and it’s going to let everyone else in the conference know that we’re for real. It’s the biggest game of the year so far for us, and we really need to buckle down and focus on it.”

The Red Storm play tomorrow at the Burns Arena at 7:30 p.m. against GCU.