Welcome to Game 1 of the Region 6 prep basketball derby, with the league seemingly wide open after an inconclusive preseason.
To wit: Bountiful is still feeling the effects of starting late after its 3A football championship; Judge certainly isn't laden the team talent in previous seasons; Granite and Jordan have experienced flashes of both brilliance and frustrations in earlier non-league games; and Tooele and West have shown some propensity to play with its peers.And then there are Woods Cross and Murray, a couple of Region 6 teams frequently mentioned as darkhorse contenders - but really, aren't they all? Both teams entered Friday night's league-openers with identical 2-3 records and two-game streaks - the Spartans with a two-win string and the Wildcats with a two-loss skid.
The streaks remain intact and Murray picked up a key league triumph on the road, as the Spartans beat the Wildcats 74-62.
Jeremy Winget scored 21 to lead Murray, while Spartan teammates Matt Baker and Kevin Carlston added 19 and 15, respectively. For Woods Cross, Jon Wickizer finished with a team-high 16, while Adam Gurr tallied 15 and Matt King 11.
In the foul-plagued first half, Murray posted near-double-digit leads, only to have Woods Cross battle back to within two or four points. The Spartans took a 26-16 lead early in second period on a Winget follow jumper and eventually settled for a 38-32 halftime lead.
Murray broke the game open early in the second half, with a 16-3 spurt allowing for a 52-35 margin. The Wildcats drew to within nine at 64-55 with two minutes left in the game, but WX managed to make just one of their final five free throws - finishing 11-of-25 for the game at the line.
Meanwhile, the Spartans canned eight of 10 FT attempts in the final two minutes, and Tom Gourdin followed one miss with a layup.
Hillcrest 75, Granger 58: Scott Stephenson scored 10 field goals and 23 total points for the Huskies, who also benefited from a combined 30 points from Ryan Kelly and Brian Kelley. Hillcrest trailed 13-8 after the first period but scored 20, 20 and 27 in the final three periods.
Bingham 87, Hunter 38: The defending league champion and two-time 4A titlist Miners started region competition with a lopsided victory at the expense of the first-year Wolverines. Bingham's Jeremy Crump led four Miners in double figures with 16; Sean Newell was the only Hunter play in double figures with 10 points.
Bingham held Hunter to six-point scoring in both the first and third periods.
Other games: In other Region 3 contests, Cyprus defeated Taylorsville 56-50, and West Jordan defeated Kearns 57-45.
Tooele 67, Judge 56: The host Buffaloes hit 16 of 18 FT attempts in the four quarter, with Shawn Walker tallying a game-high 24 for Tooele and teammate Todd Warner adding another 22. John Yerkovich paced the Bulldogs with 19 points.
West 59, Granite 57: After watching a six-point halftime lead dwindle to a single point at the start of the final period, the Panthers held on for the home victory. Chris Stepan scored 17 and Ben Gaddis added 11 for West; Granite's Pat McGrath led all scorers with 22 points.
Park City 91, Juab 88: The Miners' Justin Christensen canned three 3-pointers en route to 27 points and Zach Smith added another pair of treys and 22 points. The Wasps went to the line 52 times, but made only 33; Juab's Jason Bender led all players with 30 points.
Grantsville 72, Gunnison 64: The Cowboys started league play with a road victory, as Shane Allred scored 21 and Jeff Ware added 18. Jared Anderson led Gunnison with 27 points.
Morgan 67, Manti 59: Mitch Johnson scored 15 and John McCain 14 as the Trojans edged the Templars. Steven Olsen led Manti with 21 points.
South Summit 70, North Sanpete 61: The Wildcats shocked the top-ranked Hawks in the league-opener for both teams.
Hurricane 73, Millard 61: Justin Jackman scored 24 points to push the Tigers past the Eagles. Millard's Casey Peterson finished with a team-high 17 points.
In another Region 10 matchup, Richfield blitzed South Sevier 82-56.
Intermountain Christian 100, Waterford 54: ICS hit the century mark, as Chris Hill scored 21 points and Jeremy Heiser contributed 17. Waterford was led by Bryan Watabe's 21 and David Piercy's 17.
Panguitch 67, Parowan 57: The fourth-ranked Bobcats toppled the top-ranked Rams in a rematch of last year's 1A state championship game, which Panguitch also won. The victory was the Bobcats' first of the season.
Piute 60, Enterprise 49: The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 22-12 lead at the end of the first period, as Travis Fulmer scored a game-high 22 points for Piute. Bret Kent led Enterprise with 17.
Mountain View 53, Springville 37: Ryan Lewis scored 11 and Bryan Kitchen 10 to lead the balanced Bruin scoring. Paul Miner had 12 and Andy Crowshaw 10 for the Red Devils.
Payson 78, Orem 65: The 3A Lions handed the 4A Tigers their first loss of the season, as Brian Nielson scored all 21 of his points from the line and Phil Degraffenreid added another 20. Cameron Johnson paced Orem with 20 points.
Spanish Fork 81, Wasatch 75: Robbie Reid knocked down a half-dozen 3-pointers and hit eight of nine free throws to finish with a 34-point outing for the Dons; teammate Kent Cook added another 17 points.
The Wasatch duo of Craig Kohler and Brandon Lindsay scored 25 and 19 poitns, respectively, with each canning a pair of 3-pointers.
Other games: In other non-league games, Mountain Crest defeated Roy 73-64 and Dixie edged Emery 79-73.
Next week's region schedule
Region 1: The northern 4A league starts region competition on Friday.
Region 3: The slate of No. 2 games for the eight-team region is set for Tuesday, with the Bingham-Taylorsville matchup being a reprise of last year's 4A state championship game.
Region 6: All eight teams play a second game Tuesday, with the Judge-Bountiful contest perhaps serving as a changing of the league-championship guard. However, the West-Murray game pits a pair of teams with 1-0 league marks.
Region 9: The 2A league plays its next region slate on Wednesday, with the Park City-South Summit and Morgan-Grantsville games pairing up a foursome of winners in Friday's league openers.
Region 10: The southern 2A league takes most of the week off, doesn't start back up until Friday