Girls basketball: D-Hills one of the favorites as state tournament begins

File photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Utah State 3A Girls Basketball Tournament brackets have been filled. Last year, Region 9 was well represented with three of the final four teams coming from southern Utah.

The Snow Canyon Warriors hoist the state championship trophy, Snow Canyon vs. Cedar, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Carbon crashed the party last year after Desert Hills lost in the first round. This year looks like the semifinals may be more diversely represented. While all four Region 9 playoff teams are in the top 12, there are three or four other teams all capable of winning the entire tournament.

Desert Hills finished the season ranked atop the 3A polls, but their reward was probably the worst draw for a No. 1 seed in Utah tournament history. Their first-round opponent is Ridgeline out of Region 11. The first-year school collected three all-region players from other schools to form their team. The Thunder’s reward for beating Ridgeline would be a quarterfinal matchup with Carbon, who finished the year with a record identical to the Thunder at 17-3. If the Thunder make it to the end, the championship will be well-deserved. Below are team capsules for all of the teams in the tournament:

GAME 1
Stansbury(#3-Region 10) @ Carbon (#2-Region 12)

STANSBURY STALLIONS
Coach: McKenzie Newton
Overall Record: 10-12
Record against the field: 3-7
Current Ranking: 15th
Current Streak: Lost two
2016 Result: Lost to Carbon in quarterfinals 64-34
Offensive Average: 44.0
Defensive Average: 44.4
Significant Contributors: Taylor Hinds(Fr), Deanna Castillo(Sr), Sienna Riggle (Jr), Josie Warner (Sr), Mia Thurber (So)

CARBON DINOS
Coach: Ted Blanco
Overall Record: 17-3
Record against the field: 5-1
Current Ranking: 3rd
Current Streak: Won five
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in semifinals 54-53
Offensive Average: 51.6
Defensive Average: 36.8
Significant Contributors: Lindsey Blanc (Sr), Cyene Bigelow (Sr), Kelsey Sorenson (Jr), McKenna Sorenson (Sr), Chandelle Nichols (Sr)

Stansbury gets a rematch against the team that knocked them out of the tournament last year. The only problem is that Carbon is even better this year. They tied for first in Region 12, but lost the coin flip to Richfield. They have won five in a row entering the tournament, including a win over Richfield. They are the only non-Region 9 team to make the semifinals last year.
STGNEWS Prediction: Carbon

GAME 2
Ridgeline (#4-Region 11) @ Desert Hills (#1-Region 9)

RIDGELINE RIVERHAWKS
Coach: Ainsli Jenks
Overall Record: 13-6
Record against the field: 2-4
Current Ranking: 9th
Current Streak: Lost one
2016 Result: N/A
Offensive Average: 49.5
Defensive Average: 40.4
Significant Contributors: Bailie Crosbie (Sr), Sophia Wright (Sr), Emma Anderson (Fr), Ashley Nielsen (Jr), Kenedi Christiansen (Jr)

DESERT HILLS THUNDER
Coach: Ron Denos
Overall Record: 17-3
Record against the field: 6-2
Current Ranking: 1st
Current Streak: Won nine
2016 Result: Lost to Stansbury in play-in game 68-63
Offensive Average: 55.6
Defensive Average: 41.8
Significant Contributors: Ashley Beckstrand (Sr), Ellyn Williams (Sr), Morgan Myers (Sr), Jessica Mathis (Jr), Madison Clark (Jr)

The Thunder got the toughest draw for a top seed. Desert Hills got the toughest play-in game against the Riverhawks. The likely quarterfinal matchup will be against No. 3-ranked Carbon. For Ridgeline, Crosbie and Wright are both all-region transfers from Mountain Crest. But the Thunder are ranked No. 1 for a reason. They have the deepest roster in the whole tournament. Nine players play significant minutes. BYU bound Beckstrand has been playing her best ball the last few weeks.
STGNEWS Prediction: Desert Hills

GAME 3
Snow Canyon (#4-Region 9 @ Juan Diego Catholic (#1-Region 11)

SNOW CANYON WARRIORS
Coach: Dan Roden
Overall Record: 11-10
Record against the field: 4-7
Current Ranking: 11th
Current Streak: Won one
2016 Result: State Champions
Offensive Average: 43.1
Defensive Average: 45.0
Significant Contributors: Jasmine Lealao (Jr), Melenaite Kata (Jr), Tylei Jensen (Fr), Lindsy McConnell (Sr), Brielle Hoskins (Jr)

JUAN DIEGO SOARING EAGLE
Coach: Tim Turpin
Overall Record: 14-5
Record against the field: 8-3
Current Ranking: 6th
Current Streak: Won two
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in quarterfinals 50-45
Offensive Average: 44.3
Defensive Average: 40.5
Significant Contributors: Trista Vawdrey (Sr), Becca Curran (Sr), Brynn Drummond (Sr), Brianna Veltri (Sr), Anna Ewoniuk (Sr)

Two weeks ago, it looked like the reigning state champion Warriors would be left out of this year’s tournament. But with a little luck (coin flip) some help and a key win to end the season, Coach Dan Roden’s team gets the chance to defend its championship. The play-in game is against Juan Diego however, who beat the Warriors by 21 points on Dec. 1. Snow Canyon has gotten better, though, and they are healthy. It won’t be a 21-point loss this time, but the Soaring Eagle have to be the favorites.
STGNEWS Prediction: Juan Diego Catholic

GAME 4
Juab (#3-Region 12) @ Union (#2-Region 10)

JUAB WASPS
Coach: Jeff Wallace
Overall Record: 13-6
Record against the field: 5-4
Current Ranking: 8th
Current Streak: Lost two
2016 Result: Lost to Morgan in play-in game 56-51
Offensive Average: 44.5
Defensive Average: 38.1
Significant Contributors: Hannah Robins (Jr), Taya Jones (Sr), Baylie Heap (So), Taylie Williams (Sr), Tyler Wall (Sr)

UNION COUGARS
Coach: Sam Hoopes
Overall Record: 11-9
Record against the field: 3-6
Current Ranking: 13th
Current Streak: Won two
2016 Result: Lost to Pine View in play-in game 54-48
Offensive Average: 47.8
Defensive Average: 49.6
Significant Contributors: Carly Blake (So), Tori Ross (So), Regan Anderson (So), Marleigh Horrocks (So), Ellison Weaver (Fr)

This is the only play-in game where the home team is the underdog. Juab is the third seed, but sat behind Richfield and Carbon in arguably the toughest region in 3A. Their four losses against the field have come to those two teams as well.
STGNEWS Prediction: Juab

GAME 5
Logan (#3-Region 11) @ Cedar City (#2-Region 9)

LOGAN GRIZZLIES
Coach: Josh Zentner
Overall Record: 9-12
Record against the field: 4-6
Current Ranking: 14th
Current Streak: Won three
2016 Result: Lost to Richfield in play-in game 37-28
Offensive Average: 42.9
Defensive Average: 45.3
Significant Contributors: Kira Peterson (Sr), Tori Craner (Jr), Samalie Prom (Sr), Liz Timmerman (Sr), Sharron Wallace (Sr)

CEDAR CITY LADY REDS
Coach: John Elison
Overall Record: 16-5
Record against the field: 7-3
Current Ranking: 7th
Current Streak: Won four
2016 Result: Lost to Snow Canyon in state championship 54-54
Offensive Average: 45.9
Defensive Average: 38.7
Significant Contributors: Carly Davis (Jr), Dream Weaver (Jr), Lindsey Robinson (Sr), Japrix Weaver (Fr), Maisie Elison (Sr)

Coach Elison came oh-so-close last year. Though they lost some key pieces to graduation and transfer last year, the Reds still pose a prominent presence in this year’s tournament. They are one of a handful of teams that could win the entire tournament. If Logan wins, they will not have far to travel for the tournament being held at Utah State this year.
STGNEWS Prediction: Cedar City

GAME 6
Tooele (#4-Region 10) @ Richfield (#1-Region 12)

TOOELE BUFFALOES
Coach: Randy Goss
Overall Record: 7-14
Record against the field: 0-7
Current Ranking: 20th
Current Streak: Lost two
2016 Result: Did not make playoffs
Offensive Average: 34.5
Defensive Average: 42.4
Significant Contributors: Emily Webber (Jr), Abby Webber (Jr), Blake Hervat (Jr), Mackenzie Sharkey (Sr), MaKenna Baker (Jr)

RICHFIELD WILDCATS
Coach: Marc Peterson
Overall Record: 18-3
Record against the field: 9-2
Current Ranking: 2nd
Current Streak: Won three
2016 Result: Lost to Snow Canyon in quarterfinals 55-49
Offensive Average: 45.2
Defensive Average: 34.5
Significant Contributors: Shandi Bastian (Sr), Emma Jones (Jr), Madisyn Daniels (Jr), Caitlyn Nabity (Jr), Madison Roberts (Jr)

Tooele made the tournament because all Region 10 teams make the tournament. The Wildcats got a good draw against the worst offensive team to make the tournament. Interestingly, their opposing offensive and defensive averages match. Richfield should not have any problem with the Lady Buffaloes.
STGNEWS Prediction: Richfield

GAME 7
North Sanpete (#4-Region 12) @ Grantsville (#1-Region 10)

NORTH SANPETE HAWKS
Coach: Randi Griffith
Overall Record: 6-15
Record against the field: 0-10
Current Ranking: 18th
Current Streak: Won one
2016 Result: Lost to Juan Diego Catholic in play-in game 49-40
Offensive Average: 34.6
Defensive Average: 43.2
Significant Contributors: Catherine Lund (Sr), Lexie Olson (Jr), Angela Clayton (Sr), Ryann Tapia (Sr), Aubree Ison (So)

GRANTSVILLE COWGIRLS
Coach: Megan Vera
Overall Record: 19-2
Record against the field: 7-0
Current Ranking: 5th
Current Streak: Won ten
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in play-in game 60-38
Offensive Average: 66.6
Defensive Average: 40.9
Significant Contributors: Abby Butler (Sr), Rylie Ekins (Sr), Brayle Crosman (Sr), Hannah Butler (So), Paige McCluskey (Jr), Ashlee Edwards (Fr)

Grantsville ended the year winning their last 10 games and sweeping Region 10. That streak began with a 40-point win over the Hawks in the Hodson Classic. North Sanpete, on the other hand, has only won two of their last 14, both against Canyon View, the only team from Region 12 to not make the playoffs. Don’t expect a different result in the rematch.
STGNEWS Prediction: Grantsville

GAME 8
Hurricane (#3-Region 9) @ Morgan (#2-Region 11)

HURRICANE TIGERS
Coach: Franci Homer
Overall Record: 12-10
Record against the field: 4-9
Current Ranking: 10th
Current Streak: Won one
2016 Result: Did not make playoffs
Offensive Average: 44.1
Defensive Average: 43.5
Significant Contributors: Jayden Langford (Jr), Madi Hirschi (So), Kylee Stevens (Jr) Alexa Christensen (Jr), Halli Gubler (Jr)

MORGAN TROJANS
Coach: Kade Morrell
Overall Record: 17-5
Record against the field: 7-4
Current Ranking: 4th
Current Streak: Won one
2016 Result: Lost to Pine View in quarterfinals 67-57
Offensive Average: 60.9
Defensive Average: 41.5
Significant Contributors: Brookelyn Hurlbut (Sr), Jalyn Van Dyke (So), Marcie Stapley (Jr), Jaci Jensen (Jr), Kayden Jorgensen (Jr)

Hurricane had to do something it had failed twice before this season to make the playoffs. Beat Pine View. After losing the coin flip to Snow Canyon, the Panthers and Tigers played a third time to fill the final slot for the 3A playoffs. Now the Tigers get a tough Morgan squad. Both teams are offensive-minded and the score for both could hit 50-plus. Morgan has been here before, though, and this is the first trip for any player on Hurricane’s team. Advantage to the Lady Trojans.
STGNEWS Prediction: Morgan

TEAM COMPARISON CHART (Current record, offensive average, defensive average, point differential, strength of schedule)

Curr. Rnkng Rec. Off. Def. Diff. SOS

1. Desert Hills 17-3 55.6 (3) 41.8 (9) 13.8 (4) 9.0 (1)
2. Richfield 18-3 45.2 (8) 34.5 (1) 10.7 (5) 8.6 (2)
3. Carbon 17-3 51.6 (4) 36.8 (2) 14.8 (3) 5.8 (10)
4. Morgan 17-5 60.9 (2) 41.5 (8) 19.4 (2) 3.8 (12)
5. Grantsville 19-2 66.6 (1) 40.9 (7) 25.7 (1) -1.9 (16)
6. Juan Diego 14-5 44.3 (10) 40.5 (6) 3.8 (9) 5.9 (9)
7. Cedar 16-5 45.9 (7) 38.7 (4) 7.2 (7) 8.4 (4)
8. Juab 13-6 44.5 (9) 38.1 (3) 6.4 (8) 7.2 (8)
9. Ridgeline 13-6 19.5 (5) 40.4 (5) 9.1 (6) 2.1 (14)
10. Hurricane 12-10 44.1 (11) 43.5 (11) .6 (10) 8.6 (2)
11. Snow Canyon 11-10 43.1 (13) 45.0 (13) -1.9 (13) 7.3 (7)
13. Union 11-9 47.8 (6) 49.6 (16) -1.8 (12) 3.9 (11)
14. Logan 9-12 42.9 (14) 45.3 (15) -2.4 (14) 8.0 (5)
15. Stansbury 10-12 44.0 (12) 44.4 (12) -.4 (11) 2.5 (13)
18. North Sanpete 6-15 34.6 (15) 43.2 (10) -8.6 (15) 7.5 (6)
20. Tooele 7-14 34.5 (16) 45.2 (14) -10.7 (16) -.1 (15)

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