High school girls basketball: Thunder lead balanced 3A field; title up for grabs

Published: Monday, Dec. 31 2012 7:10 p.m. MST

The 3A state girls basketball title could very well be decided in southern Utah's Region 9.

While the defending 3A champion Snow Canyon Warriors return all of last year's title team, the classification may be even deeper and more competitive than it was last season.

"I think it could go a lot of different ways," said Cedar head coach Jon Elison. "3A has always been strong that way."

Snow Canyon is currently ranked fourth after a tough preseason that included another 3A contender, Juan Diego. The Warriors have wins over Lone Peak, Beaver, Alta and Delta in preseason play.

The Warriors are led by senior and BYU-commit Amy Harris, who averages 14.45 points, Megan Leavitt, who averages 11 points, and Grace Walton, who averages 10.5 points per game.

Last year's second-place team, Desert Hills, is currently 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state. The school returns everyone from last year's team, and should be in the mix for region and state honors.

The Thunder are led by volleyball MVP Blair Bliss, a junior who averages 14.82 points per game, and Haley Bodner, who averages 13.73 points per game.

The Thunder have already beaten Lone Peak, Richfield and Dixie in preseason play.

Juan Diego is ranked second in the state and returns all of last year's team. The Soaring Eagle has some impressive preseason wins, including victories over Snow Canyon, Syracuse, Skyline and Canyon View. Juan Diego has a very balanced offense and aggressive defense that will make it tough to beat this season.

The team is led by twins Monique Mills, who averages 15.33 points, and Dominique Mills, who averages 9.78 points, as well as Lancee Whetman, who averages 11 points per game.

"We have a team this year that could win a state championship," said head coach Natalie Williams. "It will all depend on how hard they are willing to work, and work together, as a complete unit. It should be a very exciting season for fans who come to watch."

Morgan is a perennial power and is ranked third this season, despite losing some significant contributors to graduation. Morgan has wins over Judge, Roy, Bountiful and Delta in preseason play.

The Trojans are led by McKenzie Schenk, a junior who averages 16.5 points, and six other players contribute about a half dozen points per contest. The Trojans are defined by their defensive effort, and that won't change this season.

Cedar returns four talented seniors this season and will undoubtedly be a factor in the tough Region 9 race. The Redmen have wins over Salem Hills, Enterprise, Beaver, Kanab and Juab in preseason play.

The fifth-ranked team is led by freshman Tara Shipp, who is averaging 10.56 points per game. The team also has the benefit of seven seniors — five of whom start.

"Our high scorer is a freshman, but that senior group will really help us to be strong and wise at the same time," said Cedar head coach Jon Elison.

Dixie isn't ranked — at the moment — but the Flyers have been. Not only did they return all of last year's team, they benefited from a move-in who is now one of the team's top scorers — Caroline Lantor. She averages 11.55 points per game, while Kelsey McCann adds 11.09 points per game. Elizabeth Thompson adds another nine points each game.

The state's leading scorer in any classification comes from the 3A ranks — Judge Memorial's Kailie Quinn, who averages 22.73 ppg.

Carbon, Uintah and Judge could also be factors in this year's playoff race.

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

3A top 5 statewide

1. Desert Hills

2. Juan Diego

3. Morgan

4. Snow Canyon

5. CedarRegion projections

REGION 9

1. Deseret Hills

2. Snow Cnayon

3. Cedar

4. Dixie

5. Canyon View

6. Hurricane

7. Pine View

REGION 10

1. Juan Diego

2. Judge

3. Wasatch

4. Uintah

5. Park City

6. Union

REGION 11

1. Morgan

2. Bear River

3. Ogden

4. Stansbury

5. Tooele

6. Grantsville

7. Ben Lomond

REGION 12

1. Carbon

2. Delta

3. North Sanpete

4. Spanish Fork

5. Juab

6. Payson

NOTE: As chosen by the Deseret News staff, based on early season results.

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