A Guide to the Boys’ State Basketball Tournament

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The final RPI standings have been released, signifying the start to another exciting state basketball tournament. Top teams, dark horses and other important information will all be discussed below. As for the details of the tournament, the 14-19 seeds will compete in a play in game on Tuesday, Feb 15. Winners, along with the top 13 teams, will battle it out on Friday, Feb. 19 at the higher seeds’ home sites. The remaining eight teams will advance to the three-day tournament at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield from Feb. 25-27. A full bracket can be found here.

Top 4 Teams

#1 Grantsville (15-2, 9-1) Region 13 Champion – The Cowboys breezed their way through their Region 13 opponents, nearly going undefeated. Their lone blemish was against Summit Academy when the Bears out-rebounded the Cowboys 28-17 and completed the one-point upset, 42-41, in Grantsville. The Cowboys made up for the loss with a road win over Judge Memorial in the final game of the season to secure the region title.

Grantsville’s ability has been on full display since the beginning of the season. The Cowboys’ only other loss was in overtime at Logan. Grantsville has key wins over Manti (65-61), Richfield (54-39) and San Juan (52-43).

The Cowboys are led by 6’7″ Davin Ekins with 15.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. His size creates mismatches for teams and Ekins has taken advantage of smaller players by cleaning up the boards and shooting close, high-percentage shots. His discipline might be his best characteristic. He just does not shoot bad shots, which is illustrated in his incredible 72% field goal percentage on the year.

Fellow senior Tuhker Mulford is also productive with 12.3 points per game as is Carter Killian (Jr.) with 11.3 points per game. Granstville has a total of five seniors on the team, two of which come off the bench to add valuable minutes. The Cowboys’ depth will be needed in order to make a run through the three-day tournament.

Grantsville, as a whole, shoots the ball extremely well. The Cowboys are shooting 53% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. The Mulford brothers are sharp shooters from outside. Tuhker connects on nearly half of his three-point shots (48%) while Brigham Mulford (So.) is shooting 42% from three. Grantsville shares the ball well, averaging 13.6 assists per game but also turns over the ball 13.2 times per night.

#2 Juab (18-3, 11-1) Region 14 Champion – Much like Grantsville, the Wasps had little trouble getting through Region 14. After starting 1-1 in the region, Juab ripped off 10 straight wins to claim the title. The Wasps’ only losses were to Richfield, Cedar and North Sanpete. Juab has wins over San Juan (61-43), Gunnison Valley (59-50) and Manti (twice).

Another big center anchors the Wasps in Ty Allred. The senior nearly averages a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds per game. He also moves around well for his 6’9″ frame. Seniors Brendan Allred, Dawson Olsen and Jake Bailey all pitch in with 12.6, 10.1 and 9.2 points per game, respectively. The vast majority of Juab’s production comes from its six seniors and two juniors.

The Wasps show great athleticism and have the ability to throw it down, most notably when Olsen posterized a defender with a one-handed slam in the season finale. Juab shoots 49% from the field but can struggle at the free-throw line (61%). Juab does most of its work on the boards, where it is averaging over 30 rebounds per contest. The Wasps are also active with nine steals per night but can get into turnover trouble where they cough it up 18.2 times on average.

#3 Manti (16-5, 10-2) 2nd Place in Region 14 – The reigning champs have some work to do if they want to win back-to-back state titles. Manti has beat similar teams like Gunnison Valley (76-63), San Juan (89-79) and Richfield (60-55), but is 0-3 against Grantsville and Juab this season. Outside those two top teams, the Templars are undefeated against 3A competition.

Devin Shakespear’s crew is always a tough out due to its discipline and team chemistry. The Templars are another senior-heavy team, led by Grady Thompson with 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per night. Tanner Justesen and Austin Cox add 12.4 and 10.6 points, respectively.

The Templars are also an efficient team, shooting 46% from the field and 34% from three. They distribute the ball well with 18 assists per night and attack the boards, averaging 29.2 per contest. Much like Juab, turnovers have been a problem as well this year for Manti with over 16 on average per game.

#4 Grand (19-3, 8-2) Region 12 Champion – The Red Devils were bolstered by sophomore move-ins Moroni and Malachi Seely-Roberts. Moroni is fourth in the state and first in 3A with 24.8 points per game. He is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands and comes into the tournament averaging a double-double with 10.2 rebounds a night. At 6’8″ and 6’7″, the Seely-Roberts boys cause all sorts of matchup problems.

Grand also has a big-bodied senior, Tyler Bohannon, that can come into the game and wear down the defense, even while one of the brothers is resting on the bench. Senior guard Ryelan Jones has a lot of experience and can get hot at times, adding to the nightmare of defending this Grand team. If opponents spend too much energy focusing on the sophomores, Jones and fellow guards, Chance Arbon and Rafe Saunders, will take advantage. The problem is that few people can guard the sophomores straight up, and no one has accomplished the feat for 32 complete minutes.

The Red Devils are efficient shooting the ball, as well, with a 48% field-goal percentage while going 33% from beyond the arc. Even when Grand misses, the Red Devils are tough to beat because of how many second-chance opportunities they garner. They average 12.2 offensive rebounds and a total of over 36 rebounds every contest. However, the Red Devils can have turnover problems with 15.6 on average per night.

Grand does not have the same strength of schedule as the other top four teams, which could be the reason it caps off the list. The Red Devils swept Richfield while splitting with San Juan. South Sevier also snuck out a win over Grand as did Monticello in a shocking upset.

Dark Horses

The following teams have shown the ability to play with anyone at the 3A level. They are lower in the RPI standings because they have not demonstrated the same consistency as the top teams in the rankings. If they put things together, however, any of them could knock off one of the top four and make a run at the title.

#5 San Juan (15-7, 7-3) 2nd Place in Region 12 – The Broncos are a younger team with mostly juniors and just two seniors. Jensen Grover, Ladd Ivins, Cooper Black and Nate Grover are the top players for San Juan. The Broncos have looked really good at times, handily defeating Uintah (73-59) and Grand (76-60) at home. They also played Grantsville tough early in the season. San Juan is an extremely streaky team. If the Broncos’ shots fall, they can keep up with anyone on the court. They do have a tendency to have bad quarters, which can put them behind the eight ball, especially against talented teams.

#6 Judge Memorial (12-7, 7-3) 2nd Place in Region 13 – The Bulldogs showcase the second top scorer in 3A in Dom Burns. The senior comes in averaging 23 points per game. Jace Holmes is tough to guard as well with 13.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Judge shoots 46% from the floor and 36% from three. The Bulldogs take care of the ball with less than 10 turnovers per game, but are not as active on the boards as other teams. Judge can also get hot and shoot the lights out of the gym, especially from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs would rather play a fast-paced game to find open looks. Defensively, they are not going to overwhelm teams in the half court, so if they can pressure teams and force self-inflicted mistakes, that is the key to their success.

#7 Richfield (10-10, 5-5) Tied for 3rd in Region 12 – The Wildcats did not have the season fans have become accustomed to since Richfield has controlled Region 12 and reached the championship game in each of the last two years. One reason for that is its inability to consistently find points. What Richfield lacks on the offensive end, it makes up for defensively. The Wildcats are known for tight defense and have held their opponents to under 50 points in five separate occasions. Perhaps their best win was the season opener when they thumped Juab 49-26. Richfield also beat Hurricane 54-37 and took Grand into overtime. The Wildcats do have Max Robinson, the fifth best scorer in 3A, who is averaging 17.2 points per game. Will Robinson and Dallin Stewart are other seniors that will have to step up if Richfield is going to return to the championship game for the third consecutive season.

#8 Carbon (12-8, 5-5) Tied for 3rd in Region 12 – When you look at the Dinos, they seemingly have all the pieces to compete with the top teams. Carbon has a 6’10” big in Keenan Hatch, who can alter shots and cause grief for cutting guards. Hatch averages nearly three blocks per game, but his rebounds and points do not fall in line with what you would expect from someone his size. Preston Condie is the most consistent player on the Dinos and he leads the team with 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The Dinos also have a good supporting cast with guards Noah Bradford, Merrick Morgan and Caleb Winfree. Carbon was at its best at the onset of the region schedule when at least four of the Dino starters each reached double figures in scoring. Carbon rebounds the ball well, averaging 32.3 rebounds a night, but can go into scoring droughts when the Dinos force bad shots or have consecutive turnovers. The Dinos also have a capable bench and could surprise teams if they can put all the pieces together. Carbon split with Richfield and San Juan while falling to Grand by one point at home. Carbon’s most notable game was its loss to Juab by one point, even though Hatch was not available that night.

Other Notables

Zackary Englebright, #12 Summit Academy Tied for 3rd in Region 13 – Englebright not only leads the team in points with 20.9 points per game, but he is also third in scoring in 3A. The senior owns the second best field-goal percentage on the team with 44% shooting. He has help with Owen Anderson, who averages 14.5 points per game and shoots 49% from the field. The Bears may not have a complete team, but they are the only 3A team to beat Grantsville this season.

Treven Brazier, #16 Emery 6th in Region 12 – The senior guard ranks in the top 10 for scoring in 3A with 15 points per game. He is efficient as well, shooting 58% from the floor and 44% from three. If he gets hot, watch out. He went 7-9 from three against San Juan in Blanding and finished with 27 points. If it was not for a buzzer-beater by the Broncos at the end of that game, we might be having a different conversation about Emery. As it stands, it has not been the season many had hoped for the Spartans, but they have been working to find their groove under first-year coach Jeff Cisneros with a younger team. The Spartans were able get back in the win column this past week with a victory over South Sevier on the road. Riggs Griffin is another senior guard for Emery that can do damage when he finds open looks.

Region 12 Chaos – Many of the teams in Region 12 split their season series. Other than Grand, it is hard to distinguish between the remaining schools. South Sevier for example, was one of the only region schools to beat Grand. The Rams also defeated Richfield and Carbon, but were the only Region 12 team to lose to Emery. South Sevier has a load of talented sophomores, but it may be one year too early for the Rams to make a run.

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