When it comes to this year's 5A state tournament, there is Syracuse and there is every other team.
"I've played them twice, and we've lost both times," said Layton head coach Van Price. "I think if you played them 10 times, you might beat them once."
Reigning Ms. Basketball Brittney Martin is such a dynamic and dangerous player that she commands a lot of attention from defenses. But, as Price points out, if a team uses more effort and energy to try and slow Martin, then any number of other players on the Syracuse roster will make a team pay.
"They have so many good players," said Price, whose team's only losses were to top-ranked and undefeated Syracuse. "They're going to be tough."
That does not mean, however, that there is no hope for any other of the state's talented squads. Find something that stalls or slows them, and there are a handful of teams that really could walk away champions.
Just ask the defending 5A state champions — Alta.
The Hawks ability to find a way to beat a team that hadn't been beaten in nearly two seasons gives the state's best teams hope that they might find a way this year.
But, make no mistake about it, it will be tough to stop the Titans.
Martin is leading the team's scoring with nearly 20 points per game, but senior Makenlee Williams is averaging 18.3 points, Courtney Starks is averaging nine points and Abby Call is averaging nearly nine points.
Copper Hills worked hard to get to the tournament and draws the mighty Titans in the first round of the tournament.
Taylorsville is ranked third and went undefeated in region play, but they have a tough first round game against Bingham. The Warriors are led by Whitney Mitchell, who averages 15.3 points per game and is just nine from taking over the all-time scoring record from Taylorsville star and BYU player Shawnie Slade. Siu Loamanu and Pela Tapusoa each average about 11 points per game for the Warriors.
The Miners will have a disadvantage as the team lost senior point guard and leading scorer Summer Yack two weeks ago to a knee injury.
Riverton is ranked fourth and earned the region title with just one loss to American Fork in the second half of region play. The Silverwolves are led by Whitney Saunders, who averages about 11 points, and Jamie Smith, who adds about 8 points per game, but the team's greatest strength may be the number of players who can score. Riverton takes on Granger in the first round of the tournament.
Lone Peak ranked fifth and has been a bit inconsistent at times. The Knights have earned some big wins, and then dropped a few key games. They finished second in the very competitive Region 4.
The games begin at 9:30 a.m. In the Salt Lake Community College Activity Center.
Kearns vs. Lone Peak, 9:30 a.m.
Copper Hills vs. Syracuse, 11:10 a.m.
Davis vs. Alta, 12:50 p.m.
American Fork vs. Hunter, 2:30 p.m.
West Jordan vs. Layton, 4:10 p.m.
Granger vs. Riverton, 5:50 p.m.
Bingham vs. Taylorsville, 7:30 p.m.
Weber vs. Brighton, 9:10 p.m.
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