The basketball preseason can answer a lot of questions.
It can also create a lot of confusion.
That's because each program approaches the preseason differently depending on the needs of its players and the team.
"I always view it as a time to figure out things as a team," said top-ranked Springville head coach Nancy Warner. "I feel like we've definitely had a lot of tests in games. We've had our moments — some great moments, some terrible moments… Our goal is to learn from every single test that we've had."
The Red Devils came up a game short in the 4A state championship game last year losing to region rival, Timpanogos in the championship.
The team returns most of last year's squad, which is a definite advantage.
"We returned most everybody, so we don't have a lot of people switching positions," said Warner. "This year we've kind of had to figure out what's best for us and make sure we are improving every day."
The Red Devils are off to a 7-0 start with wins over Alta, American Fork and Mountain Crest. The team is led by senior Malia Nawahine, junior guard Savannah Park, senior guard Hannah Packard and senior guard Ashli Averett. Nawahine averages 18 points and six rebounds per game, while Park adds 11 points and 1.5 steals per game.
Second ranked Bonneville was upset by Timpanogos in last year's 4A state tournament, and the Lakers feel they have a little something extra to prove this winter.
"We return a lot of very talented players with a lot of experience," said Bonneville head coach Mike Russell, "and we also add a few standout freshman to the team, which gives us a lot of depth. We definitely believe that our season ended prematurely last season, and the kids are very much looking forward to another opportunity."
Bonneville is led by senior guard/forward Emilie Volk, junior point guard Corney Porter, junior forward Kayla Eilertson and senior guard Lexie Stratford.
"The girls have worked very hard all offseason and are very focused on what they want," said Russell before the season began. "We have a very tough league and we believe that the 'would-be champion' could very easily come from Region 5."
Now that the pre-season is nearly finished, Russell said Region 5 may be even tougher than he suspected in the fall.
"Actually, now that we're almost though preseason, our region is actually better than I thought it was going to be," he said. "It's one of the toughest, if not the toughest."
That is something that Russell, and other region 5 coaches, see as a benefit in the long run.
"I think it's a pro," he said. "There isn't a game you can overlook a team. I think it will definitely pay dividends in the end."
Sky View is off to an impressive start and is currently ranked third with just a single loss in the preseason to 5A's Viewmont in overtime. The bobcats lost in last year's quarterfinal to Springville.
Sky View is led by Tara Goldman, who averages 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Lindsey Jensen adds 12.44 points per game, and Kendra Falslev adds an average of 10 ppg.
Bountiful is ranked fourth and is led by senior guard Kennedy Merrick, senior guard Jenny Skedros, senior guard Ashley Eyring and junior guard Tiana Dougher. Merrick leads the team's offense with 15 ppg, while Dougher adds 11.5 ppg.
Mountain Crest breaks into the top five after a decisive win over Cyprus, a preseason favorite to contend despite losing one of the state's best players in Lori Parkinson.
The Mustangs are led by Kelsey Kartchner, who averages 9 ppg, and Katie Wallentine, who averages 7.7 ppg.
Cyprus may have lost Parkinson, but they have a talented group of seniors who promise to keep the team competitive. They're led by Marquessa Gilson, who averages 10.8 points, Abby Barrett, who averages 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Julie Caputo, who averages 7.5 points, 2 steals and 2 apg.
Defending 4A state champion Timpanogos has 2-5 record, but one loss is to top-ranked 5A's Bingham and three others are to out-of-state teams. Timpanogos could compete for region honors, as well as the state title.
Jamaica Christensen is leading the team statistically with 11.3 ppg.
Maple Mountain coach Cory Green sees Region 8 as one of the state's toughest for the same reasons that Russell believes Region 5 is tough — depth.
"I feel that our region (8), will once again be the toughest region for girls basketball in the 4A classification," Green said.
Deseret News 4A region projections
Note: Projections were picked by the Deseret News staff based on observations from the first month of the season.
2. Sky View
4. Box Elder
5. Mtn. Crest
3. Woods Cross
3. Maple Mountain
4. Salem Hills
5. Mountain View