Brass ring is ready to be grabbed in wide open 4A field

Dixie vs. Desert Hills, Boys Basketball, St. George, UT. Jan. 19, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – It may take more than just expertise and knowledge to pick a winner in this year’s boys 4A state basketball tournament. It may take blind luck.

Between the addition and reclassification of more than a dozen teams into 4A and the proven parity throughout the state, the 4A field looks as wide open as any in the state. Figuring out who will emerge on March 3 to claim the gold trophy might just be a crapshoot.

The opening round of the 4A tournament, taking place tonight and Saturday at home sites throughout Utah, will pare the field in half, but will likely do little to clear up the championship picture. One game, Desert Hills vs. Green Canyon, is tonight, with the other seven first-round games taking place Saturday.

“It’s a great time of year and I think there are a lot of teams who could win it if they get hot,” Hurricane head coach Todd Langston said. “Our region is always tough and I believe we have an excellent opportunity to get a few wins in the first round.”

Region 9 features in four of the eight first-round games, with region champ Dixie hosting Bear River, second-place Desert Hills hosting Green Canyon, third-place Hurricane at Logan and fourth-place Canyon View at Region 12 champ Sky View. Here’s a quick look at those games:

Bear River (16-6) at Dixie (20-3), Saturday, 5 p.m.

This is a surprisingly tough first-round game for the Region 9 champ Flyers, with the Bears sporting a good record and a dangerous offense (63.1 points per game). At one point, Bear River was 9-0 and ranked among the top three teams in the state.

But since then, the Bears are only 7-6 and went 6-4 in Region 12. They’re only 4-4 in their last eight games and allow 53.4 points per contest.

But a closer look at those four recent losses is very telling. Bear River lost to Sky View (twice) Logan and Green Canyon – all playoff teams – by a combined 21 points. That’s a difference of just five points a game. And two of those losses were on the road against the region-leading Bobcats and Grizzlies.

Bear River is led by Jake Dahle, a senior who scores 15 points and grabs five rebounds a game. Two sophomores, Mark Huber and Ren Fonnesbeck, are also major contributors, with Huber averaging 14 a game and Fonnesbeck throwing in 12 per contest. The duo of 10th-graders has combined for 97 3-pointers this season.

In contrast, Dixie is kind of the anti-Bear River. The Flyers base everything they do on defense, allowing just 48 points a game. Dixie has just 72 treys this year (Bear River has 149), but has won nine straight games and hasn’t allowed an opponent more than 53 points in this calendar year.

The Flyers top contributors are Tanner Cuff (14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Carson Bottema (13.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Payton Wilgar (5.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg).

STGNews projection: Dixie by 7

Green Canyon (10-10) at Desert Hills (16-6), Friday, 7 p.m.

The Thunder got an interesting draw with a first-year school and a Wolves team that has just one senior on the roster. If there’s an under-over, take the over in this game as both teams are potent offensively.

Green Canyon doesn’t play much defense as evidenced by their 26th-ranked defense (out of 27 4A teams). The Wolves score 66.3 points per game (second in the classification), but allow 65.9.

Leading the way is a pair of juniors in Carter Berish (18.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Dewey Panter (11.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Sophomore McKay Yorgason (7.4 ppg) and junior Nate Corry (7.0 ppg) also contribute. The Wolves have made 177 3-pointers this season, with Berish tossing in 46 of those.

Green Canyon had a five-game winning streak before losing their final two games (to Sky View and Ridgeline) to drop into a third-place tie in Region 12.

While Desert Hills isn’t as flashy as Green Canyon, the Thunder can score, averaging a Region 9-best 59.0 points a game. D-Hills allows 52.4 a game, sixth best in 4A.

The Thunder are very well-balanced in scoring with the top five each above seven points a contest – Tucker Peterson (13.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Tyler Webber (10.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg), Ryan Marz (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Trevin Lindstrom (9.3 ppg) and Tyler Marz (7.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg). Point guard Trey Allred leads the state in assists per game (4.5).

Desert Hills lost back-to-back games in mid-January to Dixie and Canyon View that cost them a shot at repeating as region champions. The Thunder are 5-1 in their last six games, averaging 64.3 points a game in that stretch.

STGNews projection: Thunder by 14

Hurricane (13-9) at Logan (13-9), Saturday, 6 p.m.

This may be the tightest matchup in the first round, with Jackson Last and the Tigers taking on Jared Bagley and the Grizzlies.

Like the rest of Region 12, Logan scores a lot of points (61.5 ppg) and doesn’t play a whole ton of defense (57.7 points allowed per game). But unlike much of its region, the Grizzlies are experienced, with three seniors and two juniors making up the starting lineup.

Bagley leads the way, with the senior scoring 14.5 ppg. Right behind him is junior Anthony McDade (14.3 ppg, 3.3 apg). Junior Josh Jensen (11.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) anchors the middle, while seniors Brayden Roberts (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Trey Davis (5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg) also figure prominently. Logan hits a few treys (101 this year), but that’s not the team’s strength. They like to run.

The Grizzlies had a great chance at the Region 12 title, or at least a share of it, but lost two of their last three games and finished a game behind Sky View.

Hurricane is decent offensively, at 57.2 ppg. The Tigers hold opponents to 53.6 points a game, although they gave up 79 to Desert Hills two weeks ago and 64 to Snow Canyon last week.

Last is the star and led the state in scoring much of the season. But he’s not just a scorer as he is in the top five in Utah in rebounding and assists as well. His numbers – 24.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, and 2.3 spg. There’s no doubt Hurricane is a much better team when Reagan Marshall is able to play. The senior post player has battled an injured hip all season, missing several games and being ineffective in several more. When he’s out there, Marshall averages about 10 points and seven rebounds a game. Senior guard Adam Heyrend adds 5.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 3.1 apg.

The Tigers are just 1-5 against the other three playoff teams from Region 9, going 6-0 against non-playoff squads Cedar, Pine View and Snow Canyon.

STGNews projection: This one will come down to the end. Jackson Last at the buzzer …

Canyon View (10-14) at Sky View (16-6), Saturday, 5 p.m.

The Bobcats are among those “teams to beat” based on their surviving Region 12’s cold and inhospitable road trips. Sky View is fourth in 4A in scoring at 65.0 points per game. The Bobcats allow 58.3 per contest.

Those numbers are pretty close to the Falcons numbers (57.3 ppg and 57.5 papg), which means the game could be quite a shootout – another “over” game.

Sky View is led by Mason Falslev, a dynamic sophomore (who was a star receiver on the SVHS football team) that averages 20.2 points a game while also notching 5.0 rpg and 3.4 apg. Seniors Koebe Wilson (9.6 ppg), Payton Lee (7.8 ppg) and Andrew Dean (7.2 ppg) also help with scoring for the Bobcats, who have won four straight and averaged 72 points a game during that stretch.

Sky View has made 113 3-pointers this season (Falslev has 34 of those) and beat Canyon View by four in the preseason. In fact, the Bobcats are 4-0 against Region 9 teams, including a 52-37 win over Dixie on Martin Luther King Day.

Canyon View will be undersized as always, but makes up for that with sharp shooting and the strength of star Brantzen Blackner. The Falcons have made 185 3-pointers this year, 57 of those by Blackner.

The senior guard, who has led the Falcons deep into the state playoffs the past two years, has eye-popping numbers with 20.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game.

Two other seniors are important as well. Joey Lambeth (10.9 ppg, 4.2 apg) and coach’s son Toby Potter (8.0 ppg) will be key to the Canyon View attack.

The Falcons are on a downward slide. After winning five straight in mid- and late-January, Canyon View has now dropped four straight heading into the playoffs, including close losses to non-playoff teams Pine View and Snow Canyon.

STGNews projection: Falcons give Cats a scare, but Sky View by 4

This weekend’s 4A 1st Round playoff games (all games Saturday unless otherwise noted)
Upper bracket
Region 10 No. 3 Payson (12-9) at Region 
11 No. 2 Tooele 11-8, 7 p.m.
Region 9 No. 4 
Canyon View (10-14) at Region 12 No. 1 Sky View (16-6), 5 p.m.
Region 12 No. 
4 Bear River (16-6) at Region 9 No. 1 Dixie (20-3), 5 p.m.
Region 11 No. 3
 Stansbury (11-11) at Region 10 No. 2 Salem Hills (16-7), 7 p.m.

Lower bracket
Region 12 No. 3 Green Canyon (10-10) at Region 9 No. 2 Desert Hills (16-6), 7 p.m. Friday
Region 11 No. 4 Bonneville (8-13) at Region 10 No. 1 Orem (17-5), 7 p.m.
10 No. 4 Lehi (10-12) at Region 11 No. 1 Juan Diego (19-4), 7 p.m.
Region 9 No. 3 Hurricane (13-9) at Region 12 No. 2 Logan (13-9), 6 p.m.


Twitter: @oldschoolag

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