SALT LAKE CITY — For years it has been believed that schools of lower classifications cannot compete with the higher classifications. While that may remain true to an extent, the girls basketball teams in 3A are proving that smaller schools can, in fact, compete at any level.
The 2015-16 season has featured some very talented teams in 3A and some big wins for them against bigger schools, including Woods Cross, Salem Hills, Hillcrest and even Sky View, which is considered to be one of the best teams in the state. With all that talent, the 3A girls basketball playoffs, which begin on Friday, look like they will be very exciting this year as various teams have a real chance to take the title.
“I feel like there are six or seven teams that really have a legitimate chance at winning it,” Snow Canyon head coach Dan Roden said. “It’s going to be fun, anyone can beat anyone.”
After stellar 2015-16 seasons, Carbon and Snow Canyon are the favorites to compete for the title. Each team went 20-2 this year and could very well face off in the championship game as they are in opposite sides of the playoff bracket.
The No. 1 seed out of Region 12, Carbon, will play Bear River in the first round of the playoffs and is prepared to contend for its first state title since 2005. The Dinos boast a solid offense alongside the best defense in 3A, with a defensive scoring average of 37.1 points per game.
“Defensively, this group of girls has bought into what it takes to be successful,” Carbon head coach Ted Bianco said. “If we continue to play together, I like our chances against anyone.”
Senior forward Sara Morley, who moved into the school’s boundaries last year, has been a good complement for the Dinos this season as she has averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Lindsay Blanc leads the team in scoring with 12 points per game.
The other side of the 3A bracket features many of the best teams in 3A, however, and should provide plenty of excitement early on. The No. 1 seed out of Region 9 and favorite to win its side of the bracket, Snow Canyon, features a very dangerous offense and will play Park City in the first round.
The Warriors are led by Madison Mooring, who scores 16 points a game, while teammate Shaylee Reed adds another 11 points and seven rebounds per game.
“We feel that if we play the way we are capable, we can be as good as anybody,” Roden said.
Meanwhile, on the same side of the bracket are Morgan and Logan, the only two teams in the state to beat Sky View this year. The Trojans will face the pesky Juab Wasps, who are one of the only teams to have beaten Snow Canyon this year. Logan will face Richfield while the other game on that side of the bracket is the No. 1 seed coming out of Region 10, Union, against Pine View, which could be poised to upset the Cougars after playing several solid teams in Region 9 play.
The other games on Carbon’s side of the bracket are Stansbury against Desert Hills, Cedar against Grantsville and No. 1 seed out of Region 11 Juan Diego against North Sanpete.
Juan Diego will likely provide some solid action as it has the second best offense in 3A, led by Becca Curran and AnnMarie Nelson, who average 17 and 12 points per game, respectively.
Similarly, Desert Hills will be fun to watch as it has arguably the best player in 3A in junior Ashley Beckstrand. She leads the Thunder with 24 points and six rebounds per game.
All first-round games will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday with the exceptions of the Logan-Richfield and Stansbury-Desert Hills games, which will begin at 6 p.m. All first-round games will be played at the homesites of the higher seed. The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship games will all be played at Southern Utah University.