Edward’s evaluation: With three players averaging in double figures, this year’s Park City team clearly has some talent. That hasn’t always translated into wins though, with a mediocre 5-5 record in region. Now it must travel to Southern Utah for a very difficult first round game. An early exit is likely, which would be a frustrating end to such a promising season.
Payson Lions (17-4)
Coach: Dan Lunt
How qualified: Finished first in Region 12 with a 10-0 record
Playoff opener: vs. Ogden, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Best preseason victory: A 46-35 win at Provo on Dec. 6.
Best region victory: A 59-47 win at Delta on Feb. 3.
Clint Bateman, Sr., Guard (19.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.7 spg)
Tanner Newbold, Sr., Guard (17.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.6 spg)
Bret Rowley, Sr., Guard (6.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg)
Kaden Jensen, Sr., Guard (4.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.6 spg)
Jamon Lunt, Sr., Forward (3.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.2 spg)
Scoring offense: 60.8 ppg (3rd in 3A)
Scoring defense: 50.1 ppg (5th in 3A)
Last state championship: None
Prep editor James Edward’s bracket: Loss to Cedar in quarterfinals.
Edward’s evaluation: The Lions have largely flown under the radar in 3A this year, but they’re certainly a potential sleeper team in the playoffs. With that said, they only played one 3A team outside of their own region this year, and that was a 56-50 loss to Wasatch. Was that an anomaly, or was that a sign that Payson isn’t in 3A’s elite company?
Spanish Fork Dons (10-11)
Coach: Jesse Roberts
How qualified: Finished in a fourth-place tie with North Sanpete in Region 12 at 4-6, but beat North Sanpete in a tiebreaker to qualify as the No. 4 seed.
Playoff opener: at Morgan, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Best preseason victory: A 60-49 win against Timpview at UVU on Nov. 22.
Best region victory: A 71-60 win against Delta on Jan. 20.
Clay Banks, Sr., Forward (18.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.0 spg)
Elliott Naulu, Sr., Guard (13.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.7 spg)
Hayden Nielsen, Sr., Guard (11.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.1 spg)
Cameron Money, Jr., Forward (4.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.6 spg)
Christian Taele, Sr., Forward (3.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 1.2 spg)
Scoring offense: 59.4 ppg (4th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 57.2 ppg (21st in 3A)
Last state championship: None
Prep editor James Edward’s bracket: Loss to Morgan in first round.
Edward’s evaluation: When Spanish Fork beat Timpview to start the season, it looked like the Dons were going to be a real force in their first year in 3A. That hasn’t been the case as the Dons finished the regular season below .500 and needed to win a play-in game just to qualify for the playoffs. A win at Morgan seems unlikely.
Wasatch Wasps (11-10)
Coach: Lonnie Magnussen
How qualified: Finished second in Region 10 with an 8-2 record
Playoff opener: vs. Cedar, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Best preseason victory: A 56-50 win at Payson on Jan. 4.
Best region victory: A 61-54 win at Park City on Jan. 6.
Matt Pelo, Sr., Guard (19.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 2.0 spg)
Zack Watts, Sr., Guard (11.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.2 spg)
Cale Strong, Sr., Guard (9.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.2 spg)
Parker Davis, Sr., Guard (5.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.3 spg)
Jake Segura, Sr., Center (2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.1 spg)
Scoring offense: 55.4 ppg (12th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 55.0 ppg (18th in 3A)
Last state championship: 2011
Prep editor James Edward’s bracket: Loss to Cedar in first round.
Edward’s evaluation: The two-time defending state champs are an afterthought in the 3A conversation this year. A 3-peat is very unlikely, however, there’s enough talent on this team and the bracket is favorable enough that the Wasps could win a game or two.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.
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