There are a lot of teams in the way. It’s anyone’s tournament. —North Sevier head coach Lexa Larsen
After back-to-back years of watching Delta take home the state championship, the girls basketball teams of 2A were greeted with a new reality this season, one filled with opportunity.
The Rabbits, devoid of the stars that had carried them to such grand heights, fell out of contention this season, and opened the door for a new champion.
As such, starting in Orem on Friday and continuing on to Richfield next weekend, teams from across the state will battle to determine who is going to break through and claim the championship trophy for their school.
Chief among the contenders are the Emery Spartans and the North Summit Braves. Coach Lynn Tuttle's team, led by the likes of Megan Jensen and Kinlee Toomer, sprinted out to an impressive 19-1 record, that included multiple wins over playoff participants. The Spartans only loss all year came at the hands of North Summit in an early preseason matchup.
“We weren’t in great shape early on, especially with that loss,“ said Tuttle. “But as region play rolled around we got better. These girls like to work together, they are very unselfish. Hopefully that style of play will take us where we want to go.”
For their part, the Braves finished the regular season with the best record in 2A, at 20-1. North Summit’s only defeat came just before the end of the season, at arch rival and chief Region 16 foe South Summit.
“North Summit is a really really good team,” North Sevier head coach Lexa Larsen said. “They are more athletic than any of us.”
Coach Larsen’s team, meanwhile, is yet another team that has as good a chance as any to take home the trophy.
The Wolves, runners-up last season, brought back their entire team, and despite suffering a few bumps and bruises along the way, are primed and ready to make it back to the title game.
“The year didn’t completely turn out the way most of us thought it would,” said Larsen. “We had a rough patch in the middle of the season that kind of shook us. But bumps aren’t always a bad thing. I think we have learned from our mistakes this year and have gotten better because of them.”
With Delta’s slide, Kanab, with a 15-6 overall record and a 9-1 mark in region play, rose as the chief threat from Region 13. It wasn’t a simple task for the Cowboys, however, with teams like Beaver and Millard hot on their trail.
“Some of those teams have come on,” said Tuttle. “The thing about Region 13 is that all of their region games, night in and night out, were difficult. They have definitely gotten better.”
Filling out the bracket are teams from Region 14, such as Wasatch Academy and Layton Christian Academy. Historically Region 14 teams have never made it past the opening day of the tournament, and yet this year those fortunes appear primed to change.
“I’ve gone and watched Wasatch Academy and they have some really good basketball players,” said Larsen. “They might win one or two games in the tournament this year.
With so many contenders, the state tournament has the potential for major upsets, as well as heavyweight bouts. It certainly seems as though every team has a gauntlet to get through in order to make the championship round.
“There are a lot of teams in the way,” Larsen said, chuckling. “It’s anyone’s tournament.”