SALT LAKE CITY — The Class 4A State Basketball Tournament tips off Monday morning at the Huntsman Center and there’s little doubt who the favorite is to win it all: Bountiful, and the Braves' resume speaks for itself.
The Braves compiled a 22-1 overall record and a 14-0 record in Region 6 play where their average margin of victory was a whopping 32.1 points. They also haven’t lost since December, and didn't dropped a game to an in-state opponent all year.
“Bountiful is obviously the clear-cut favorite and I don’t think anyone would dispute that,” said Roy coach Dan McClure. “They’re extremely good and it’s going to be very hard for any of the other teams to beat them.”
Despite being considered the tournament’s overwhelming favorite, Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell isn’t hanging his hat on the designation and even scoffs at the suggestion.
“We’ll be favorites to walk out of our doors the morning the tournament starts Monday and that’s about it,” he said. “Once we get up there everyone is going to be ready to tear our throats out and there’s a lot of teams capable of doing it.”
So, which teams are capable of taking out the Braves?
When asked, Maxwell rattled off a whole host of teams, but it’s natural to look at the other three region champs first.
Roy (17-5) enters the tournament as the Region 5 champions where it held off top teams such as Box Elder, Logan and defending champion Sky View.
“Logan is as tough as they come, and we learned in our last game that Box Elder is capable of having lost that game," McClure said. “Those are obviously the teams we know best, but you look around the state and there’s tough teams everywhere.”
Fortunately for McClure, he has one of the state’s most exceptional talents in his back pocket in 6-foot-9 forward and future Utah Ute Brekkott Chapman.
“He’s a game-changer in every sense of the word,” McClure said. “He’s great offensively, but I feel he’s even more of a difference-maker on defense. His length and athleticism really changes the game.”
Orem brought home the Region 7 crown having won its last seven contests. The team is led by future BYU Cougar Dalton Nixon, who averages 21 points and nine rebounds per game.
“Orem is playing some good basketball and that’s just one other team we have to worry about,” Maxwell said.
Timpview, winner of the Region 8 crown, rounds out the four Class 4A region champions.
“Anyone can win this thing and anything can happen once that ball goes in the air,” Maxwell said. “We know that better than anyone having gone through what we did last year. Anything, and I mean anything can happen in these games.”
Indeed Bountiful appeared poised to reach last year’s championship game before an improbable half-court heave from Sky View’s Jalen Moore found the bottom of the net at the buzzer.
“We remember that shot well, really well, and it motivates us and reminds us of what these tournaments are really all about and what it takes,” Maxwell said. “You have to be ready for anything and you can’t take anyone lightly. Sure, we’re playing great, but none of that matters once that ball goes in the air Monday morning.”