New team will win 3A boys championship

By JAMES EDWARD

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Feb. 20 2012 10:20 p.m. MST

Team-by-team 3A boys state tournament capsules.

Somebody who hasn't cut the nets down in a very long time — or ever — will finally get that opportunity again this Saturday night in St. George at the conclusion of the 3A boys basketball state tournament.

The last time any of the eight 3A quarterfinalists won a state championship as back in 1995 when Cedar won its second straight title.

No. 1 Desert Hills and No. 3 Payson have never won a championship, and its been at least a quarter century since the other five schools have cut down the nets. Dixie has the longest drought, last winning in 1970. It's followed by Delta (1972), Morgan (1974), Hurricane (1982) and Ben Lomond (1986).

The potential for new blood to finally celebrate a championship makes this week's 3A state tournament very intriguing. The quarterfinals get underway at Dixie State College on Thursday morning, with Ben Lomond facing tournament favorite Desert Hills at 9:30 a.m.

That game is followed by Dixie-Delta at 11:10 a.m., Cedar-Payson at 12:50 p.m. and Morgan-Hurricane at 2:30 p.m.

The previous two times the 3A state tournament was contested at the Burns Arena in St. George (2002 and 2007), the championship games were all Southern Utah affairs. The four Region 9 teams who advanced to the quarterfinals this year certainly hope history repeats itself.

Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but Cedar coach Craig Cardon says the trend is pretty easy to comprehend.

"Your student section can come, your fans can come, and that becomes a huge deal," said Cardon.

"You're talking about teenage kids and they can feed off the crowd and the environment, both good and bad."

It's a 45-minute bus ride from Cedar City to St. George, and Cardon hopes his fans pack the stands for the afternoon tip off.

Despite its No. 3 ranking, Payson can't help but feel a bit disrespected by all the attention the media is throwing at Region 9.

"We put it to a vote whether we should go down or not, and they decided we should go down even though we don't have much of a shot," said Payson coach Dan Lunt.

Payson's guard tandem of Clint Bateman (19.5 ppg) and Tanner Newbold (17.3 ppg) make the Lions a very scary team in their first year competing in 3A since 1993.

"They're the heart and soul of their team. We have to make sure we know where they are at all times," said Cardon. "The scary part about Payson, everyone knew those guards were the key to their team and they still kept winning all year."

Email: jedward@desnews.com

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