By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Shane Marshall
The tournament draw for the 5A girls state basketball championships that begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday makes for an interesting slate of matchups, beginning on Day 1. Two of the state’s deepest and strongest regions (Regions 3 and 4) are pitted against each other in the opening round and that means even the top seeds from those leagues will be a little restless waiting for the tourney to begin.
Overall, this is as wide open as a state tournament has been in quite some time, and as many as eight or nine teams are good enough, if they get hot at the right time, of running the table, winning four straight and raising the trophy come Saturday.
Fremont Looking to Repeat
Defending champion Fremont is among the favorites, particularly with the Silver Wolves coming into the tournament on a hot streak, having won their last five. Led by Shelbee Molen and Harley Hansen, this is a team that is tournament tested and will be difficult to dethrone.
Among the teams who seem most likely to do so are Region 1 rival Layton, which beat Fremont the first time the two teams met this season and took the Silver Wolves to two overtimes the second meeting.
Beyond that, look no further than the previously mentioned Regions 3 and 4 and you will find a whole bunch of teams that have the potential to win this thing. Riverton and American Fork shared the Region 4 title, with each team’s only league loss coming against the other.
The No. 3 seed from Region 4 is Lone Peak, who lost four times combined to Riverton and American Fork, and other than a late-season surprise defeat at the hands of Westlake, the Knights’ only other loss was to Region 3 co-champion Brighton. Lone Peak defeated the other team that shared the Region 3 title, Alta, during non-region play, and that is the team the Knights will see first in the 9:30 a.m. game Monday.
Brighton and Alta are joined by Copper Hills as three very tightly bunched teams at the top of Region 3, and that league’s fourth-place team, Bingham, is 15-5 overall and owns a preseason victory over Riverton.
Region 3/Region 4 Rematches
The opening day features some marquee matchups, led off by that Lone Peak vs. Alta game right out of the gate. It’s Mariah Martin against high-scoring Kelsey McCann and it should be another great battle between these two teams. When they met back on Dec. 5, McCann went off for 31 points and Martin scored 25.
Another Region 3 against Region 4 rematch from preseason play will close out the opening session Monday at 2:30 p.m. as American Fork faces off with Copper Hills. The Lady Cavemen took the Dec. 15 battle by one point, as Paige Farnsworth and Taylor Moeaki faced off in a guard-on-guard battle with Shirsten Wissinger.
The Riverton vs. Bingham re-do comes up at 5:50 p.m. as the Silverwolves try to get a measure of revenge from that regular season meeting. The Miners opened the year 10-0, including the Dec. 18 overtime win by just a single point over Riverton. In that one, Leya Harvey posted a double-double for Bingham, while Madison Loftus scored 14 to hold off Kirsten Spencer (16 points), Tess Campbell (12 points) and company.