TWIR9: Playoff fever hits southern Utah hoopsters

COMMENTARY — First and foremost, there has been some confusion about the times and days for the boys and girls playoff games coming up this weekend in the first round of the 3A State Basketball Tournament, so let’s clear things up right now. Here’s the current and accurate schedule of this week’s first round games:

Girls 3A first round games (all girls games this week are on Friday night):

Upper bracket
Union (7-13) at Juab (10-10), 7 p.m.
Grantsville (5-16) at Desert Hills (21-1), 7 p.m.
Cedar (12-10) at Bear River (15-7), 7 p.m.
Carbon (11-12) at Juan Diego (17-4), 7 p.m.

Lower bracket
Tooele (6-15) at Hurricane (13-8), 7 p.m.
Park City (5-13) at North Sanpete (17-3), 7 p.m.
Richfield (6-14) at Morgan (20-1), 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon (11-9) at Stansbury (14-8), 7 p.m.

Full girls 3A bracket here.

Boys 3A first round games (all boys games this week are on Saturday):

Upper bracket
Park City (7-15) at Richfield (13-5), 7 p.m.
Ben Lomond (4-18) at Snow Canyon (14-7), 4 p.m.
Cedar (13-8) at Grantsville (18-3), 7 p.m.
Juab (13-7) at Juan Diego (18-5), 7 p.m.

Lower bracket
Tooele (10-12) at Pine View (16-5), 4 p.m.
Uintah (7-13) at Payson (16-6), 7 p.m.
North Sanpete (4-15) at Morgan (17-6), 5 p.m.
Desert Hills (13-8) at Bear River (12-10), 5 p.m.

Full boys 3A bracket here.

Later this week we will have previews of the playoff games, but it’s safe to say that this is an exciting time of year for all the teams involved in the playoffs. The southern Utahn in us feels like (and hopes) that Region 9 can go 8-0 in the first round of the playoffs. As we count down the days and the players and coaches make their final preparations, here is some final regular season food for thought:

Making a case for MVP

For the boys, It looked like an open-and-shut case a week ago with Kody Wilstead second in the league in scoring, first (by a wide margin) in rebounding and first in blocked shots. But then Pine View lost its last three games and the Panthers fell out of first place. Cedar fans (and perhaps anyone who saw the PV-Cedar game on Feb. 7) probably think Kordan Nielson should be the region’s MVP as he led the league in scoring by nearly four points a game. Another way of thinking is that the MVP should be the best player on the best team, which means a Snow Canyon player, probably Nate Gottfredson, should be the MVP. Others worthy of consideration: Quincy Mathews, Chaz Peterson and Dustin Staggs.

For the girls, Hurricane’s Brooklyn Gubler actually led the region in scoring (15.6 ppg) and the Tigers’ Sela Filo was tops in rebounding (7.8 rpg) this season. But does anyone really believe that there was a better player in the region than Haley Bodnar? In fact, Bodnar’s only serious contender for league MVP should be teammate Blair Bliss. Bodnar had more points per game (15-13) and rebounds per game (7-5), but Bliss was a near triple-double almost every night on the court. She averaged 6 assists and 4 steals per game to go with those other numbers, making her an invaluable asset to the undefeated Lady Thunder. Of course, a lot of her assists were to Bodnar and a lot of her fast breaks were started by Bodnar blocks. Suffice it to say, they made a good team.


On the boys side, all-region performers that stood out to us were Snow Canyon’s Gottfredson, Hayden Anderson and Tanner Sampson, Pine View’s Wilstead, Peterson and Collin Dowdell, Desert Hills’ Mathews and Jordan Hokanson, Cedar’s Nielson and Staggs, Dixie’s Hawes and Sam Guymon, Canyon View’s Huxford and Hurricane’s Lebaron. If you put the thumb screws to us and made us pick five, we’d go with Gottfredson, Wilstead, Mathews, Nielson and Staggs.

On the girls side, all-regi0n performers we were impressed with this year were Desert Hills Bodnar, Bliss, Ashley Beckstrand and Kenzie Done, Hurricane’s Gubler, Filo and Madison Hall, Snow Canyon’s Grace Walton, Ashlee Nyborg and Madison Mooring, Cedar’s Courtney Morley and Javlyn Weaver, Canyon View’s Josie Platt and Jayceee Slack, Dixie’s Liz Empey and Pine View’s Tayvia Ah Quin. Narrowing it down to five, we’d go with Bodnar, Bliss, Done, Gubler and Empey.

Hot, hotter, hottest

For the boys, not team is hotter than the Desert Hills Thunder, who won their last four and went 5-1 in the second half of region play. DH was carried by Mathews in the first half, but the junior forward has gotten help in scoring by several sources since the halfway point, including Hokanson, Trey Tanner, Taylor Houston and Brycen Williams. The late surge wasn’t quite enough to get DH a home playoff game, but the Bear River Bears better be prepared for a Thunder team that always plays tough defense and is finally starting to shoot the ball very well. Snow Canyon had won four straight and 7 of 8 before last Friday’s home loss to D-Hills. However, the Warriors should have no problem with 4-18 Ben Lomond in the first round.

With the girls, Desert Hills has been so dominant, it would be a shocker to see them anywhere but the state championship game on March 1. But what about the rest of the region? Hurricane had been playing very well, winning 6 of 7 until last Tuesday’s puzzling loss at home to Cedar. True, the Lady Tigers had their No. 2-seed locked up, but they’re a much better team than they showed in that contest and it could be a momentum killer going into the playoffs. By the same token, Snow Canyon, the three-seed, had lost three straight and 5 of 7 when they beat Dixie in the last game of the year. The Lady Warriors are a much better team with Walton and could have a chance at a road win at Stansbury Friday night. Cedar finished region with three straight wins just to get into the playoffs.

Top moments

For each boys team: Snow Canyon – The gutsy win at Cedar to win the region title, with three defenders forcing the ball out of Nielson’s hands at the end of the game. Pine View — Wilstead’s OT buzzer-beater over Snow Canyon had PV on top of the R9 world for awhile. Desert Hills – Back to back road wins at Pine View and Snow Canyon to end the season, with Hokanson and Mathews shooting lights out. Cedar – Nielson’s 34-point night against Pine View helped the Redmen to a season-high 76 points. Dixie — Opening region with a blowout win over Desert Hills, shocked a lot of people, but the buzzer-beater by Hawes over SC was the best moment. Canyon View – The Feb. 5 win at home vs. Pine View when junior guard Sterling Barnes went off for 17 points. Hurricane – The Tigers beat Dixie early in region play, but that win last Friday over CV stopped a 10-game losing streak.

For each girls team: Desert Hills – Wow, so many great moments, maybe the night DH beat 5A Alta, just a week after the only loss to Timpview, or perhaps the night region was clinched. Hurricane – The road win at Snow Canyon was pretty epic, especially since it came less than 48 hours after a 30-point beatdown by Desert Hills. It also clinched second place. Snow Canyon – Getting Walton back, stopping a losing streak and clinching a playoff spot all on one night make Feb. 13 a big night for SC. Cedar – That win at Hurricane helped them avoid any kind of tiebreaker or play-in game. Canyon View — Beating Cedar early in the year was pretty sweet for the Lady Falcons. Dixie – The Lady Flyers put themselves in playoff contention with a win vs. Snow Canyon on Jan. 21. Pine View – Though the young Panthers didn’t win a game, they came oh-so-close, taking Canyon View to overtime Jan. 16.

One more thing …

Congratulations to all the swimmers and wrestlers from region 9 who earned state championships and please see our stories and photo galleries from those state events.

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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.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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