Could be a wild ride at boys 4A state tournament

Desert Hills' Tucker Peterson (31) launches the game winning shot, Desert Hills vs. Green Canyon, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 239, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

OREM – A few years ago, the Utah High School Activities Association tried an experiment with Region 9, placing Dixie, Pine View and Snow Canyon in the 4A classification while leaving Desert Hills (then a newish school), Hurricane and the two Cedar City schools in 3A.

Dixie’s Derek Cox (0), Dixie vs. Bear River, Boys Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 24, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

It did not go well for the trio of schools in St. George that were forced to play up, especially in boys basketball. From 2007 until 2011, the Flyers, Panthers and Warriors played in Region 9, but competed in 4A when it came to postseason. Two of the three schools made the playoffs each year during that four-year foray into 4A. The results were terrible, with the three teams combining to go 2-8 in the playoffs against other 4A teams. Six of the eight playoff qualifiers were bounced in the first round. The other two times (Snow Canyon in 2008 and Pine View that same year), the Region 9 schools were ousted in the second round.

It was a learning experience, to put it mildly. Ryan Cuff, who was the new coach at Dixie High during the end of that experiment, said it made him learn one thing, “We need to get better, as a team, as a program and as a region.”

Fast forward to this season, with the UHSAA creating a new 6A classification and every team in the state getting reevaluated and re-placed into a more even and fair situation. The new 4A retained some of its old flavor, with teams like Orem, Sky View and Spanish Fork. But also joining the old guard were former 3A powers like Juan Diego, Logan and Bear River.

And Region 9, a longtime bully in 3A sports, figures prominently in the new mix. The evidence was in the first round of this year’s state playoffs. Region 12, thought by many to be the top hoops region in 4A, got bruised and beaten by Region 9 in the first round. No. 1 seed Sky View won, but Hurricane dominated Logan, the second seed. Desert Hills eliminated Green Canyon. And Dixie sent Bear River packing.

Just like that, the Bobcats are the only team left standing for the northernmost region.

Region 10 did well in the first round as well. Not surprisingly, top-seeded Orem beat up on Bonneville and No. 2-seeded Salem Hills had little trouble with Stansbury. But many were surprised to see Payson take Tooele to the woodshed on the Buffaloes own court. Only Region 11’s top team, Juan Diego, survived the first round.

So with the quarterfinals very Region 9 and Region 10 heavy, let’s take a look at each matchup heading into Thursday morning’s second-round games at UVU’s UCCU Center in Orem:

Game 1
Hurricane (14-9) vs. Juan Diego (20-4), 9:30 a.m.
Scoring: HU – 57.4 ppg; JD – 62.7 ppg
Defense: HU – 53.6 papg; JD – 47.5 papg
Win streak: HU – 3 games; JD – 1 game
Last 10: HU – 6-4; JD – 9-1
3-pointers made: HU – 110; JD – 133
Best win: HU – at Logan, 64-57; JD – vs. Riverton, 57-49
Worst loss: HU – vs. Manti 58-44; JD – vs. Wasatch Academy 73-53
Top guns: HU – Jackson Last (24 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg), Reagan Marshall (8 ppg, 31 last week); JD – Matt Kitzman (15 ppg), Jason Ricketts (12 ppg).
One line: HU – Best player in state (Last) and a healthier Marshal make Tigers dangerous; JD – So many weapons, and Kitzman is a D-1 point guard.
STGNews projection: Last and Marshall will keep Tigers close, but … JD by 6.

Game 2
Desert Hills
(17-6) vs. Orem (18-5), 11:10 a.m.
Scoring: DH – 59.3 ppg; OR – 63.3 ppg
Defense: DH – 52.6 papg; OR – 51.3 papg
Win streak: DH – 2 games; OR – 10 games
Last 10: DH – 7-3; OR – 10-0
3-pointers made: DH – 122; OR – 132
Best win: DH – vs. Salem Hills, 74-71; OR – vs. Juan Diego, 66-55
Worst loss: DH – vs. Alta, 48-37; OR – vs. Salem Hills, 58-53
Top guns: DH – Tucker Peterson (13 ppg, 8 rpg) and Tyler Webber (10 ppg, 38 3s); OR – Ross Reeves (18 ppg, 49 3s) and Puka Nacua (13 ppg, 5 apg)
One line: DH – Excellent offensive team, but sometimes lax on defense; OR – Wow, beat Juan Diego and stayed with undefeated Olympus, Tigers might be team to beat in tourney.
STGNews projection: This is a tall order for the Thunder against perhaps best team … Orem by 5

Game 3
Dixie (21-3) vs. Salem Hills (17-7), 12:50 p.m.
Scoring: DX – 56.0 ppg; SH – 67.4 ppg
Defense: DX – 48.2 papg; SH – 57.6 papg
Win streak: DX – 10 games; SH – 3 games
Last 10: DX – 10-0; SH – 9-1
3-pointers made: DX – 73; SH – 116
Best win: DX – vs. Salem Hills, 72-65; SH – at Orem, 58-53
Worst loss: DX – vs. Wasatch, 56-52; SH – at Westlake, 81-63
Top guns: DX – Tanner Cuff (15 ppg, 5 rpg) and Carson Bottema (14 ppg, 4 rpg); SH – James Nelson (25 ppg, 9 rpg) and David Jones (11 ppg)
One line: DX – Flyers had 10 seniors graduate last spring, still reloaded and won region; SH – Run-and-gun style with state’s top shooter in Nelson
STGNews projection: Skyhawks are athletic, but Dixie plays great defense … Dixie by 7

Game 4
Payson (13-9) vs. Sky View (17-6), 2:30 p.m.
Scoring: PA – 60.7 ppg; SV – 64.9 ppg
Defense: PA – 57.5 papg; SV – 57.9 papg
Win streak: PA – 2 games; SV – 5 games
Last 10: PA – 6-4; SV – 8-2
3-pointers made: PA – 119; SV – 118
Best win: PA – at Tooele, 71-54; SV – vs. Dixie, 52-37
Worst loss: PA – at Mt. View, 53-52; SV – vs. Logan, 67-58
Top guns: PA – Jase Moe (11 ppg) and Logan Sorensen (10 ppg, 39 3s); SV – Mason Falslev (21 ppg, 5 rpg) and Koebe Wilson (10 ppg)
One line: PA – Lions aren’t great on defense, but have five dangerous scorers; SV – Sophomore Falslev leads one of the top offenses in 4A
STGNews projection: Gonna be a shootout, with Bobcats owning more ammo … Sky View by 12

4A first round results
Upper bracket
Payson 71,
Tooele 54
Sky View 61, Canyon View 42
Dixie 64, Bear River 55
Salem Hills 60, Stansbury 48

Lower bracket
Desert Hills 65,  Green Canyon 63
Orem 62, Bonneville 39
Juan Diego 75, Lehi 50
Hurricane 64, Logan 57

4A quarterfinal matchups (@ UCCU Center, Utah Valley University)
Upper bracket
Region 10 No. 3 Payson (13-9) vs. Region 12 No. 1 Sky View (17-6), 2:30 p.m.
Region 9 No. 1 Dixie (21-3) vs. Region 10 No. 2 Salem Hills (17-7), 12:50 p.m.

Lower bracket
Region 9 No. 2 Desert Hills (17-6) vs. Region 10 No. 1 Orem (18-5), 11:10 a.m.
Region 9 No. 3 Hurricane (14-9) vs. Region 11 No. 1 Juan Diego (20-4), 9:30 a.m.

4A semifinals (@ UCCU Center, Utah Valley University)
Hurricane-Juan Diego winner vs. Desert Hills-Orem winner, Friday, 5:50 p.m.
Payson-Sky View winner vs. Dixie-Salem Hills winner, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

4A championship (@ UCCU Center, Utah Valley University)
Saturday, 1:15 p.m.

  • Note – This is a single-elimination tournament. There are no consolation games.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

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