ETV News stock photo by Jeff Barrett
It’s that time of the year again as the state basketball tournament is upon us. All the hard work and time in the gym by the players and coaches has prepared them for this moment. The only question left to answer is who will stand alone on top? Here is a breakdown of various schools and what you need to know before the tournament tips off.
The bottom six teams will meet for a play-in game at home sites on Feb. 11. The next round will commence on Feb. 14 in Price at the BDAC on the USU Eastern campus. Games will start at 9:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Visit etvnews.com/livesports/ETV10-2 for a live stream of every tournament game and follow us on Twitter @etv10news for updates as the scores are finalized.
TOP 4 SEEDS
#1 South Sevier (21-1, 9-1) Region 12 Champion – The Lady Rams nearly completed a perfect regular season with their only blemish coming on their home court against the Carbon Dinos (45-42). Kenzie Jones (Sr.) is one of the most polished players in the tournament. She leads the team in points (13.9), assists (3.4) and steals (2.9). Opponents get into trouble when they try to pass the ball around or over the top of Jones. She has a lot of length and plays excellent defense. Jones is athletic, anticipates well and has a high basketball IQ. She is equipped with a fluid jump shot and will make opposing teams pay if left open. She must be accounted for at all times on both ends of the court.
Another force for South Sevier is Presley Chappell (Jr.), who is averaging a double-double with 12.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. She is a solid post player that dominates the boards and gets easy put backs when she is on the floor. From top to bottom, South Sevier demands a lot of attention and forces teams to defend both inside and out.
The Lady Rams move the ball well and average 14.5 assists per game. They convert on 43 percent of their shots (32% from three), making them one of the highest shooting percentage teams in the tournament.
Because the Lady Rams are so talented, perhaps the best game plan is to try and get Chappell in foul trouble and place the team’s top defender on Jones. The Lady Rams are a complete team with few holes in their armor. Opponents must slow down the Jones and Chappell duo, take care of the ball, execute offensively and hope they are within striking distance toward the end of the game. Easier said than done.
#2 Judge Memorial (17-2, 9-1) Region 13 Champion – The Lady Bulldogs brought back the same starting lineup from a year ago. The continuity on the team was in full display as Judge Memorial worked its way through Region 13 to claim the title.
Sophomore standout Teya Sidberry leads the entire state with 25.2 points per game. Sidberry is also second in the state in steals with 5.3 and free throws made with 96. She had a much-improved sophomore campaign with 10.5 rebounds a game and is shooting an incredible 51 percent on the year. The combination of her height and athleticism make her a nightmare to guard. Defensively, Judge Memorial has Sidberry guard the ball coming up the court. If teams are not careful, she has the ability to pick the guard’s pocket and finish on the other end in a flash.
Fellow sophomores Mia Tarver and Marika Collins can both run the offense and average 11.1 and 7.3 points, respectively. Their play does not dip on the other end either. Their defensive prowess is impressive as well as they average 3.7 and 2.8 steals per game, respectively. The Lady Bulldogs have the ability to rotate between Tarver and Collins, keeping at least one of them on the court for most of the game. This 1-2 punch is tough for teams to handle because there is never a lull in activity. Both guards can slash to the hole and score or create open looks for their teammates.
Seniors Emily Malouf and Abigayle Kendell add balance to the squad with their high basketball IQs and scoring ability. Both have a knack for scoring when needed. Judge Memorial is a tough team to match up with defensively as each starter can score. Teams will have to find a way to limit their talented sophomores and find ways to take advantage of their youth.
#3 Grantsville (19-3, 8-2) 2nd Place in Region 13 – After taking second in the state tournament last year, Grantsville is once more among the top teams in 3A. Grantsville is the only 3A team to beat Judge Memorial thus far, which it accomplished at home by two (55-53). The Lady Cowboys held a 13-point lead going into the fourth quarter and managed to hold on despite a huge Lady Bulldog rally.
Two of the four top scorers in 3A don Grantsville jerseys. Maison White (Jr.) and Ashlee Edwards (Sr.) are second and fourth in the ranking with 20.2 and 16.0 points per contest. The duo also averages a combined 14.7 rebounds a game.
Grantsville is converting on 40 percent of its attempts from the field but struggles behind the arc, shooting just 24 percent. The Lady Cowboys pose a threat defensively with 16.8 steals a night, 5.7 coming from Edwards. The Lady Cowboys can be careless with the ball as they average 15.2 turnovers.
#4 RICHFIELD (17-5, 8-2) 2nd Place in Region 12 – The Lady Wildcats missed the championship game by one-point last year and are fighting to get back in the title game. They are led by Jarica Steck (Sr.) and Passion Reitz (Sr.) with 14.0 and 10.6 points per match, respectively. Sippola Vakautakakala (Jr.) can dominate the post and averages in 9.3 points a night. Freshman forward Nicole Willardson can do a lot when on the court and primarily fills in for Vakautakakala.
Richfield’s best quality is their hustle and intensity. The Lady Wildcats can force teams to play their fast-paced game. When this occurs, they capitalize with steals and fast-break points, creating separation in a hurry. Teams will need to remain patient and hit open looks in order to stay with Richfield. Richfield has a ton of experience with four seniors and six juniors. Each player has a role and fills it well.
#5 CARBON (15-8, 6-4) 3rd Place in Region 12 – The region bolsters four of the six top teams in the tournament in the RPI’s inaugural year. The Lady Dinos are the only team to come away with a win against South Sevier this season. They did so during a stretch where they won six of seven games and looked poised for a state title run. There is fear among Dino Nation, however, that Carbon might have peaked two weeks too early. The Lady Dinos will enter the tournament as losers of two straight by an average of nine points.
The Lady Dinos are at their best when they fly around the court, creating turnovers. Carbon thrives on fast-break points and can struggle to run its offensive sets once defenses are set up. Abbie Saccomanno (Sr.) has been the team’s most consistent player. She does a little of everything and is averaging 12.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. Jordan Bianco (Sr.) can shoot from anywhere on the court and has great ball handling ability. She adds 11.9 points and 3.3 steals per night. Makenna Blanc (Jr.) is the team’s leading rebounder from the guard position. Post players Cora Lamborn (Sr.) and Diana Morley (Sr.) are efficient shooting the ball and can add another dimension when utilized properly. The Lady Dinos will need to find their previous mojo in order to have success.
#6 EMERY (11-10, 4-6) 4th in Region 12 – The two-time reigning champs are rebuilding after graduating six seniors last year. The Lady Spartans are young, starting two seniors, one junior and two sophomores. One advantage is that they spread the ball well between Hailey Allred (Sr.), Kiri Cook (Sr.), Tambrie Tuttle (So.) and Baylee Jacobson (So.). All four of those players average about 10 points per game.
The Lady Spartans shoot at a high clip (39%) but do not get as many steals or rebounds as in years past. Their inexperience has hurt them, as Emery has been unable to find consistency between games. The Lady Spartans will need to string four straight games together in order to make it a three-peat.
#8 MANTI (15-6, 11-1) and #9 DELTA (13-8, 11-1) 1st Place Tie in Region 14 – Both Manti and Delta were negatively impacted by the new RPI system due to their weak region. Four teams from Region 14 will have to battle their way to make the final cut of 16 teams before the tournament reaches the BDAC on Friday.
In previous years, these two teams would have received more favorable seedings. This year, they will open up play against one another. It is possible that only one team from Region 14 will reach SLCC.
In the final game of the season, Delta upset Manti on the Lady Templars home court to share the region title. Friday’s game will be the rubber match between the two teams.