COMMENTARY — The holiday season is great for most people. Great food, family, presents and parties make it a non-stop time of fun and gluttony — except for basketball coaches.
Sure, they go to the parties and enjoy time with family. Some of them even eat way too much. But for most of the hoops honchos, Christmas break is not fun.
First of all, the state has a moratorium on certain dates. That means no games, but also no practices — not even conditioning — no meetings, no pep talks, nothing. From Dec. 22-26 (plus Jan. 1), coaches weren’t allowed to do anything with their players except maybe a phone call. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. The holidays are for families, but for a coach who has just barely finished the preseason and gotten his players to start buying into his system and the nuances of playing in it, five days off are killer.
Plus, how many teenagers are going to practice on their own during that time? I can’t imagine too many guys were out shooting free throws or running ladders on Christmas eve.
So, the coaches have their teams back and are trying to repair what figurative damage has been done by pumpkin pie and the football bowl season. Don’t expect the teams to be at peak performance tonight (for the girls) and tomorrow night (for the boys) as Region 9 play resumes. Thankfully, the state playoffs are still more than six weeks away and those stressed out basketball coaches have plenty of time to get their teams running like well-oiled machines. Of course, you’ve got to make the playoffs for that to matter. Here’s an early glance at the odds of that happening:
Boys teams (overall and region record, outlook)
Canyon View (3-8, 0-1) — Led by Keaton Kringlen and Koy Huxford, the Falcons best win was a blowout over Juab. Playoff chances: 25 percent — The blowout loss to Cedar in December is not a good omen. Issues: Scoring, as CV averages just 51 per game, lowest in the region).
Cedar (6-5, 1-1) — Led by Dustin Staggs and Kordan Nielson, the Redmen’s best win was vs. Grantsville (which is 10-1). Playoff chances: 75 percent — Best defense in the region should get them in the postseason. Issues: Staggs and Nielson need some help on the offensive end.
Desert Hills (6-5, 1-1) — Led by Quincy Mathews and Taylor Houston, the Thunder’s best win was against Cedar. Playoff chances: 75 percent — Also a great defensive team, which goes a long way. Issues: Inconsistency as one night they look great (vs. Cedar, Mt. Crest), the next not so much (vs. Dixie and Salem Hills).
Dixie (8-3, 1-1) — Led by RJ Wilgar and Sam Guymon, the Flyers best game was against Desert Hills. Playoff chances: 65 percent — Loss at Hurricane hurt, especially late in the season. Issues: Teams witrh talented big men could give them problems (SC, PV).
Hurricane (5-7, 1-1) — Led by Cody LeBaron and Kaden Langston, the Tigers best win was against Dixie. Playoff chances: 25 percent — Huge win vs. Dixie, plus non-league Ws making us take second look at Tigers. Issues: Hurricane also might have issues when facing talented big men.
Pine View (9-2, 1-1) — Led by Chaz Peterson and Kody Wilstead, the Panthers best win was over Sunnyside, Ariz., in the NGS Championship. Playoff chances: 75 percent — A loss at SC is no shame, but PV must protect its home court. Issues: Defense, giving up nearly 60 per game, though the offense keeps rolling as well (nearly 70 ppg).
Snow Canyon (6-4, 1-0) — Led by Nate Gottfredson and Tanner Sampson, the Warriors best win was against Pine View. Playoff chances: 75 percent — The only team without a region loss, SC got a home win vs. contender PV. Issues: Defense, as the Warriors are allowing 73 ppg, worst in the region.
Basically, it looks like there will be five teams (SC, PV, Dixie, Cedar and DH) trying to grab four playoff spots. We just don’t see Hurricane and Canyon View displacing any of those five, but remember, one of the five will not make the playoffs. Plus, before Dixie’s opening win against DH, many thought it would be a four-team race with Dixie on the outside looking in. The Flyers have changed that way of thinking.
Desert Hills certainly looks unbeatable on the girls side. The Lady Thunder’s only loss came to 4A No. 1-ranked Timpview at the Thunderbirds home. Everyone knew DH would be very good with Haley Bodnar, Blair Bliss, Emily Seifert, Karlee Myers and Kassidy Cox all back from last year’s second-place team. but who saw the incredible emergence of freshman Ashley Beckstrand and sophomore Kenzie Done. Adding those two to the mix makes DH even better and the odds-on favorite to win region and state.
In fact, the intriguing battle will be for the other three playoff spots, with Cedar, Hurricane, Snow Canyon and Canyon View all making a case. Dixie has been victimized by injuries and bad luck and the Flyers and Panthers will have a hard time making the playoffs.
So, like the boys, the girls probably have five playoff-worthy teams with just four spots available. With DH a lock, it will actually be four teams battling for three spots. It should be quite a race.
This week’s basketball schedule:
TUE, JAN 7
Cedar at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
WED JAN 8
Desert Hills at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
THU JAN 9
Dixie at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Hurricane, 7 p.m. – Dave
FRI JAN 10
Canyon View at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Dixie, 7 p.m.
This Week In Region 9 is written by Andy Griffin and provides a glance at prep sports in southern Utah. Click the email below for submissions and to provide updates from your favorite sports that we might have missed.
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