2A girls state preview: Richfield mining for title in return to 2A
Everyone is gunning for Richfield in the 2A girls basketball state tournament this week.
Playing arguably the toughest schedule in 2A, the Wildcats haven't skipped a beat winning 20 games and looking very good in the process.
"Richfield all year has been by far the team to beat. They've got a very good team, only lost one game all year, and they've beat some very good 3A teams," said Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall. "In their region, I don't think anyone played them remotely close."
Richfield coach Marc Peterson knows his team is the favorite in its first year back in 2A and a two-year stint in 3A, but he's making sure his players don't take anything for granted.
"I think once it gets down to those final four teams, there's going to be four quality teams," said Peterson.
The 2A quarterfinals get underway Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield with Gunnison and Beaver tipping off at 4:10 p.m. Richfield takes the court against North Summit at 5:50 p.m., followed by Kanab-North Sevier at 7:30 p.m. and then South Summit-Enterprise at 9:10 p.m.
Of the four quarterfinals, only Beaver-Gunnison is a rematch of an earlier meeting this season. Despite beating Gunnison by 18 points back on Dec. 30, Marshall believes that victory ought to be thrown out the window.
"That might as well have been a whole different season back in December. From what we've seen of Gunnison lately they're a much-improved team. (Sara) Brown for them is a very good athlete and they have some tough physical girls," said Marshall.
Gunnison (9-11) is the only team left in the playoffs with a losing record.
If Beaver takes care of business against Gunnison again, it would meet Richfield in the semifinals barring a major upset by North Summit.
Megan Bean is the catalyst behind Richfield's dominant season, as she's averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds.
"Megan's the nucleus of our team both offensively an defensively. She's good enough she can score out of a double team, but now when the double team comes she can kick it out to the guards, and this year we have some of the best guards we've ever had as far as knocking down 3-pointers," said Peterson.
Taking care of the basketball against North Summit's full-court press will be key for Richfield in avoiding the upset.
"We just need to continue how we've been playing these last few weeks. We've been playing our best basketball all year long. We've been executing well and moving the ball around well," said Peterson.
Defending champion Enterprise is one of four teams in the bottom half of the bracket that believes it can make a run at the title game.
Marshall gives the slight edge to his region rivals Kanab and Enterprise in the quarterfinals, but admits he wouldn't be surprised to see North Sevier and South Summit steal victories.
North Sevier has won 15 straight heading into the quarterfinals, but it did lose five straight prior to that, which included losses to Enterprise and Beaver.
South Summit is an athletic team that's also riding a wave of momentum with 12 straight wins.