Girls basketball: Desert Hills, Cedar face tough foes in 3A quarterfinals

Cedar's Dream Weaver (00) fights for a loose ball, Cedar vs. Carbon, 3A State Basketball Tournament, Girls Basketball, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 26, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

LOGAN – The field is down to eight for 3A girls basketball.

While all of the higher-seeded teams won at home in the first round, Union is the only team not in the top eight ranked teams to make the field. The Cougars beat No. 8-ranked Juab to crash the party. All of the other teams are ranked in the top seven.

Region 9 dominated in 2016, with three of the four semifinalists. This year, however, Region 9 is already down to two entering the quarterfinals and both teams left have the top two ranked non-Region 9 teams (Desert Hills vs. No. 3 Carbon and Cedar vs. No. 2 Richfield) as opponents. Below are game summaries and predictions, in order of finish, for the eight remaining teams:

GAME 1
Carbon (#2-Region 12) v. Desert Hills (#1-Region 9)

CARBON DINOS
Coach: Ted Bianco
Overall Record: 18-3
Current Ranking: 3rd
Current Streak: Won six
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in semifinals 54-53
How they got here: Beat Stansbury in the first round 53-41. Broke open tight game in the second quarter behind Jordan Bianco (16 points) Lindsey Blanc and Cyene Bigelow.
Offensive Average: 51.7
Defensive Average: 37.0
Significant Contributors: Lindsey Blanc (Sr), Cyene Bigelow (Sr), Kelsey Sorenson (Jr), McKenna Sorenson (Sr), Chandelle Nichols (Sr)
Predicted finish: Loss in quarterfinals

DESERT HILLS THUNDER
Coach: Ron Denos
Overall Record: 18-3
Current Ranking: 1st
Current Streak: Won 10
2016 Result: Lost to Stansbury in play-in game 68-63
How they got here: Beat Ridgeline in the first round 65-43. Thunder led throughout. Ashley Beckstrand (21) and Morgan Myers (15) both scored in double figures. Ellyn Williams leads the team in rebounding.
Offensive Average: 56.0
Defensive Average: 41.9
Significant Contributors: Ashley Beckstrand (Sr), Elly Williams (Sr), Morgan Myers (Sr), Jessica Mathis (Jr), Madison Clark (Jr)
Predicted finish: State champion

Game Outlook: Desert Hills continues to be the favorite to win the whole thing. The Thunder not only has the best player but are also probably the deepest in the tournament. They have gelled at the right time and are ranked number one having performed well with the highest strength of schedule. Carbon was a semifinalist last year, and along with Cedar, only one of two semifinalists remaining. They are also on a roll and could very well run the table. The winner of this game likely makes it to the finals.

GAME 2
Union (#2-Region 10) v. Juan Diego Catholic (#1-Region 11)

UNION COUGARS
Coach: Sam Hoopes
Overall Record: 12-9
Current Ranking: 13th
Current Streak: Won three
2016 Result: Lost to Pine View in play-in game 54-48
How they got here: Beat Juab in the first round 54-46. Carly Blake (24) and Regan Anderson (14) both scored in double figures. Union was the only quarterfinal team not favored in the first round.
Offensive Average: 48.1
Defensive Average: 49.4
Significant Contributors: Carly Blake (So), Tori Ross (So), Regan Anderson (So), Marleigh Horrocks (So), Ellison Weaver (Fr)
Predicted finish: Loss in quarterfinals

JUAN DIEGO SOARING EAGLE
Coach: Tim Turpin
Overall Record: 15-5
Current Ranking: 6th
Current Streak: Won three
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in quarterfinals 50-45
How they got here: Beat reigning champion Snow Canyon 48-32. Juan Diego blitzed the Lady Warriors in the first quarter. Becca Curran (13), Trista Vawdrey (11) and Brynn Drummond (10) all scored in double figures.
Offensive Average: 44.5
Defensive Average: 39.6
Significant Contributors: Trista Vawdrey (Sr), Becca Curran (Sr), Brynn Drummond (Sr), Brianna Veltri (Sr), Anna Ewoniuk (Sr)
Predicted finish: Loss in semifinals

Game Outlook: Despite being the higher seed, many were surprised to see Union win its first-round game. It will be an even bigger surprise if the Cougars beat the Soaring Eagle. Juan Diego is well-coached and has a lot of weapons both inside and out. Union would like to play spoiler, like 1983’s N.C. State all the way to the end. Nah, JD survives and advances.

GAME 3
Cedar City (#2-Region 9) v. Richfield (#1-Region 12)

CEDAR CITY LADY REDS
Coach: John Elison
Overall Record: 16-5
Current Ranking: 7th
Current Streak: Won five
2016 Result: Lost to Snow Canyon in state championship 55-54
How they got here: Beat Logan in the first round 56-33. Carley Davis had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Dream Weaver also scored 11. Cedar scored the first 20 points of the game.
Offensive Average: 46.4
Defensive Average: 38.4
Significant Contributors: Carley Davis (Jr), Dream Weaver (Jr), Lindsey Robinson (Sr), Japrix Weaver (Fr), Maisie Elison (Sr)
Predicted finish: Loss in quarterfinals

RICHFIELD WILDCATS
Coach: Marc Peterson
Overall Record: 19-3
Record against the field: 9-2
Current Ranking: 2nd
Current Streak: Won four
2016 Result: Lost to Snow Canyon in quarterfinals 55-49
How they got here: Beat Tooele in the first round 48-30. Shandi Bastian had a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds. Richfield leads the state in team defense.
Offensive Average: 45.3
Defensive Average: 34.3
Significant Contributors: Shandi Bastian (Sr), Emma Jones (Jr), Madisyn Daniels (Jr), Caitlyn Nabity (Jr), Madison Roberts (Jr)
Predicted finish: State runner up

This game was the hardest quarterfinal game to gauge. Two tough defensive teams that have three to four playmakers at the offensive end. Coach Elison is the best when it comes to Xs and Os. The Davis-Bastian matchup will be fun to watch. If Cedar plays like it did in the first round, the Lady Reds will return to the semifinals.

GAME 4
Morgan (#2-Region 11) v. Grantsville (#1-Region 10)

MORGAN TROJANS
Coach: Kade Morrell
Overall Record: 18-5
Current Ranking: 4th
Current Streak: Won two
2016 Result: Lost to Pine View in quarterfinals 67-57
How they got here: Beat Hurricane in the first round 59-44. Brookelyn Hurlbut (15), Jalyn Van Dyke (14) and Morgan Cragun (11) all scored in double figures. Marcie Stapley leads the team in rebounding.
Offensive Average: 60.8
Defensive Average: 41.6
Significant Contributors: Brookelyn Hurlbut (Sr), Jalyn Van Dyke (So), Marcie Stapley (Jr), Jaci Jensen (Jr), Kayden Jorgensen (Jr)
Predicted finish: Loss in semifinals

GRANTSVILLE COWGIRLS
Coach: Megan Vera
Overall Record: 20-2
Current Ranking: 5th
Current Streak: Won eleven
2016 Result: Lost to Cedar City in play-in game 60-38
How they got here: Beat North Sanpete in the first round 62-43. Rylie Ekins scored 23. Abby Butler had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Offensive Average: 66.4
Defensive Average: 41.0
Significant Contributors: Abby Butler (Sr), Rylie Ekins (Sr), Brayle Crosman (Sr), Hannah Butler (So), Paige McCluskey (Jr), Ashlee Edwards (Fr)
Predicted finish: Loss in quarterfinals

Game outlook: Grantsville’s record and scoring averages are impressive, but nothing else is. They had the weakest strength of schedule in all of 3A and swept what many consider to be the weakest region in 3A. Their first-round opponent was one of the weaker in the field. Now, to win the state tournament, the Cowgirls would have to face three straight championship-caliber teams. It is likely they won’t get past the first. The Lady Trojans are deep and legit. They have a chance of taking it all the way.

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