COMMENTARY — Time and history will always show that Pine View won Region 9 in boys basketball and Cedar in girls basketball. But this history lesson is still unfinished. Friday and Saturday the next chapter will begin for the 2014-15 high school- basketball season.
On the boys side last year, Morgan marched through the bracket nearly unimpeded, winning four playoff games by an average margin of victory of 15 points, including the 59-45 championship game victory over Cedar.
But the Trojans, who lost eight seniors and their head coach off of that team, won’t be much of a threat this year. Morgan is 4-17 and needs a play-in win tonight just to get to the state tournament.
So that means we will likely have a new champion this season. Who will it be?
Certainly the trio of teams at the top of Region 9 will be in the mix. More on them in a minute. Let’s look at the other possible contenders from around the state.
The only real threat from region 10 is Juan Diego. The Soaring Eagle feasted on 4A and 5A teams in the preseason, including wins over Fremont, Hunter and Herriman and a split of two games with Riverton. Plus, JD has a big-time leader in Gabe Colosimo, a Utah recruit who averages nearly 19 points a game. The Soaring Eagle should blast Grantsville in the first round and set up a second-round headline match-up with Desert Hills.
In Region 11, Bear River won the crown and the Bears have won 12 of their last 15 games in compiling a 17-5 record. There has always been a great tradition up in Garland/Tremonton and, while some people dismiss Region 11 as weak, I believe the Bears may very well be a big factor in this state tournament. They like to play full-court, pressure hoops and can blow teams out if someone comes in unprepared for that style. Plus, they fling it from outside with abandon, having hit 97 3-pointers this season.
In Region 12, Payson (14-9) seemed to be the class of the league until a week and a half ago. The Lions strode into Richfield’s Wildcats Gymnasium and left 90 minutes later with their tails between their legs. Richfield (12-7) beat Payson 77-58, setting up a tie for the region title. The real bad news for the Lions is that they draw Dixie in the first round. Payson gets Dixie at home, but it’s not the easy game a region champ hopes for. The Wildcats, meanwhile, will host Cedar in the first round, which is no gimme either. RHS went 3-4 in playing all four Region 9 teams, beating Hurricane, Snow Canyon and Canyon View, but losing to all four Region 9 playoff teams.
Region 9 will likely be a factor deep into the 3A Tournament, which starts at home sites this week, then heads to the Maverik Center in West Valley City Feb. 26-28.
Pine View is ranked No. 1 by the Salt Lake media and the Panthers certainly have an impressive resume. With a glossy 19-2 record, a gritty region schedule and a good roster mix that includes 3A’s best big man (Kody Wilstead), a shifty point guard (Chaz Peterson) and a legitimate lights out 3-point bomber (Garrett Bowker), the Panthers have as good a chance as anyone at hoisting the 3A trophy Feb. 28.
Desert Hills, 16-6, certainly has a good shot as well, with the amazingly consistent Quincy Mathews, outside shooter Marcus McKone and a pair of good big men in Austin Adams and Tanner Leishman. DH should win at home Friday, but that potential quarterfinal game against Juan Diego will be a real test. The Thunder had won seven straight and were undefeated in region until a late-season slump (three losses in five games).
Dixie, 17-5, has the most intriguing opening-round game as the Flyers travel to Payson. The Flyers lost a couple of games in late January that cost them a chance at the region crown, but Dixie has gone 11-2 in the new year and features the most dynamic trio of guards in Jake Hawes (19.4 ppg), Tyler Bennett (15.7) and RJ Wilgar (13.3). Hawes leads 3A in 3-pointer made this season.
Cedar, 11-9, has been an enigma this season. The Redmen have looked very good at times, taking Pine View to the final gun and beating up Morgan and Richfield. But they have also been run off the court quite a few times (D-Hills, Dixie and PV have all done that). It may be too much to ask the Redmen to win at Richfield Friday night. Cedar did beat the Wildcats (at Cedar) earlier this season. But the current Richfield squad is playing a lot better than that one back in December.
Here’s a look at Region 9’s first-round games this Friday night.
Pine View (19-2, 57.3 ppg) vs. North Sanpete (10-11, 60.6 ppg), Friday night at PVHS, 7 p.m. — There really aren’t any signature wins on North Sanpete’s schedule this season. The Hawks did take both Payson and Richfield to overtime in the last week of the season, but ultimately lost and have dropped 6 of 7. NS doesn’t have a star, but a bunch of “pretty good” players, led by a pair of 9 ppg guys in Spencer Applegarth and Brandon Lewis. North Sanpete has hit 88 3-pointers this year (PV has made 102).
Desert Hills (16-6, 60.5 ppg) vs. Juab (12-8, 51.8 ppg), Friday night at DHHS, 7 p.m. — The Wasps beat a decent Grantsville team, but have blowout losses to Hurricane and Canyon View and couldn’t break through in four tries vs. Payson and Richfield. They have a pretty decent big man in Nick Robins, who averages 13.6 points a game and can cause match-up problems with his ability to shoot from the perimeter. Dilloin Douglas is the real deep threat as he’s made 36 this year. The Wasps have 67 treys on the year (compared to DH’s 97).
Dixie (17-5, 65.5 ppg) vs. Payson (14-9, 58.0 ppg), Friday night at PHS, 7 p.m. — The Lions did well in a tournament in Florida (winning 3 of 4) and were cruising in Region 12 until that 19-point loss at Richfield. Since then, they barely beat North Sanpete and beat up on a bad Carbon team. That night in Richfield had to have been frustrating as Payson shot three free throws to 42 for Richfield. The Lions are led by Brice Wyberg (11.6 ppg, 48 3-pointers) and Dallin Jasperson (10.7 ppg). Payson has made 95 3-pointers this season (Dixie has 133, best in 3A).
Cedar (11-9, 50.1 ppg) vs. Richfield (12-7, 54.6 ppg), Friday night at RHS, 7 p.m. — The Wildcats would have likely finished in fifth place in Region 9, just based on their record against R9 teams. But they’re at home and have certainly developed some momentum, having won six straight. Before the streak, whey were 6-7. Richfield has one of the state’s most exciting players in Brandon Willardson, who averages 18.3 points a game. RHS has made 100 3-pointers (Cedar has 53).
The question for the 3A girls playoff race is not, “Who’s going to win?” but rather “Can anyone beat Juan Diego?”
Led by twin sisters Monique and Dominique Mills, the Soaring Eagle are 21-0 and have beaten up on larger teams like Brighton and Timpview and are averaging more than 70 points a game. They’ve only had one close game all year (under 10-point margin) and that was in the season-opening 63-59 win over eventual 5A Region 3 champ Brighton.
Though it feels like a foregone conclusion, other teams, including Region 9 champ Cedar, are going to give it their best shot in the state tournament. Carbon (15-7), Bear River (15-5), Desert Hills (14-7) and Morgan (15-8) all could have a shot, though Morgan did lose to JD twice in the regular season (by and average of 15 points).
Here’s a look at the Region 9 first-round games:
Cedar (18-3, 48.9 ppg) vs. Richfield (5-16, 43.7 ppg), Saturday at Cedar, 5 p.m. — The two teams played in the preseason with the Lady Reds winning by 14 up in Richfield. The Lady Wildcats are led by Madisyn Daniels, who averages 9.9 points a game and has made 43 3-pointers this year. Season 3-pointers: Cedar 64, Richfield 95.
Desert Hills (14-7, 57.8 ppg) vs. North Sanpete (15-6, 43.6 ppg), Saturday at D-Hills, 5 p.m. — The Thunder won a mid-December meeting 59-44 at North Sanpete with Ashley Beckstrand and Kenzie Done combining for 49 points. A lot of water has run under the bridge since then. The Lady Hawks have won 5 of 6 and are led by post player Jacey Dunn, who averages 13.3 points a game. Season 3-pointers: DH 73, NS 48.
Snow Canyon (10-12, 47.0 ppg) vs. Juab (14-6, 44.8 ppg), Saturday at Juab, 6 p.m. — Juab is 2-0 vs. Region 9, but the games were against sixth-place Canyon View and seventh-place Hurricane. SC is a bit tougher, having gone 8-3 in region since the turn of the calender. The Lady Wasps are led by distance shooter Rylee Bryan, who has 26 treys and averages about 13 points a game. Season 3-pointers: SC 77, JHS 55.
Pine View (10-8, 47.4 ppg) vs. Carbon (15-7, 46.1), Saturday at Carbon, 7 p.m. — The Lady Panthers have been phenomenal considering last season’s winless campaign. But three losses to close out the year have them hitting the road in the playoffs. Carbon’s pretty good, having won Region 12. The Lady Dinos had won four straighrt before stumbling in the season finale at Payson. Carbon is led by Jordan Scoggins’ 12.2 points a game. Season 3-pointers: PV 28, Carbon 64.
“This Week in Region 9″ is a weekly column written by Andy Griffin exploring the happenings in Region 9 at all sports venues. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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