RICHFIELD — The first round of a state tournament isn’t known for monster matchups.
But this year, the 1A tournament starts with teams from Region 17 squaring off against Region 20, which means Wednesday’s games should be exciting. Rich will take on defending 1A state champion Bryce Valley in the first round of the tournament at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. These two teams met in last year’s semifinal with Bryce Valley earning the win and eventual title in double overtime against Duchesne.
While Rich is ranked No. 1 and boasts an 18-1 record, Bryce Valley is barely over .500 with a 12-11 record. In fact, the Mustangs had to beat West Ridge in a play-in game just to earn a shot at defending the title. The Mustangs are led by Kix Roundy, who averages 13 points per game, while Rich’s strength is its depth. It has three players averaging double digits — senior Skyler Argyle (13.3), senior McKay Jarman (12.2) and junior Wyatt Muirbrooke (12).
“It’s really hard to say,” said second-ranked Panguitch head coach Clint Barney of the 1A tournament landscape. “Going into the tournament, I think Rich High School is probably the overwhelming favorite. They come in with a nice record, and they play in a tough region. So that record is a true representation of how good they are.”
The Bobcats have a pretty good record as well, 21-1 with just an early season loss to fifth-ranked Duchesne. Panguitch is led by Tyce Barney, who averages nearly 25 points per game, with nearly 11 points coming from Trey Barney.
Coach Barney said they face Region 20 rival Wayne in the first round. And while they’re a sixth seed, he said it will still be a tough draw.
“That’s asking us to beat a team three times in a season, and that becomes a difficult task,” he said.
Fourth-ranked Monticello will take on Diamond Ranch, while St. Joseph’s, a No. 2 seed, will play third-seeded Monument Valley. The tournament begins with second-seeded Green River, from Region 19, playing Region 18’s third seed, Tintic.
Third-ranked Piute will take on Tabiona, and Duchesne will face Valley in what could be the best contest of the day. Duchesne is Region 17’s No. 2 seed and will rely on the leadership of Trent Roberts, Braxton Spencer and Alex Gatherum, all of whom average around 10 points per game.
Valley is led by Kobe Shatto, who averages 12.27 points per game.
The Piute-Tabiona matchup is the last of the day. Piute is led by a trio of players — Matthew Millett, JJ Ramos and Dalton Steed, all of whom average about 12.5 points per game. Tabiona is led by Bailey Hogan and Demont Nay, both of whom average about 14.5 points per game.
All teams play again Thursday, with losers heading into a consolation bracket and winners advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinals.