One can make a case for Region 2 boasting the strongest 4A prep basketball region in the state. To wit:

Region 2 - Several Region 2 teams - such as Alta, Brighton and Cottonwood - have brought back a host of players with previous varsity-starting experience.- The league owns some of the brightest individual 4A stars from both the inside and outside attacks - beginning with, but not limited to, the likes of Cottonwood's Justin Weidauer, Skyline's Jaron Boone, Highland's Kerry Hicks and Brighton's Alex Fisher.

- Region 2 claims four of the top eight finisher's in last season's 4A state tournament, with Cottonwood placing third, Brighton four, Highland seventh and Skyline eighth.

Alta: Coach Ron Carling and his Hawks have to be glad that league play is starting, since seven of Alta's nine preseason games have been played on the road. And Carling is expecting big things of an experienced foursome led by 6-4 senior guard-forward Scott Sexton, who excelled in Southwest summer-tournament play.

Other varsity returnees include 6-6 senior forward Justin Barlow, 6-4 senior center Ryan Dixon, and 6-2 senior guard Ryan Bills. Those moving into bigger roles this season are the likes of 6-1 junior guard Troy Norris and 5-10 senior guard Ken Sharp.

Brighton: The Bengals are big and somewhat experienced - but Coach Larry Yates says his team needs to realize that and play that way. "We've had spots of brilliance and we're on the verge of breaking out and playing well," Yates said. "We just need to mature . . . we're going to be at good ball team before we're done."

Brighton has back the likes of 6-8 senior forward-center Derrick Welling, 6-1 junior guard Alex Fisher and 6-9 junior center-forward Joey Haws. Joining them in more meaningful varsity roles are 6-1 junior guard Mike Enger and 6-1 senior guard John Liljenquist.

Cottonwood: The Colts should be tired of finished third place at the 4A state tournament - they've done that two years straight now. Coach Blair Martineau has the horses to take Cottonwood up a couple notches, starting with early BYU signee Justin Weidauer, a returning 6-7 senior all-stater who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game last year.

He's joined by more varsitee returnees, including 6-5 senior forward Seth Miller, 6-5 senior forward Jason Yocom and 6-0 junior guard Riley Jensen. Seeing more quality varsity this year are senior guard Greg Brockbank, junior swingman Bradley Miller and senior guard Jeff Buckwalter.

East: The Leopards will be looking for big times in the coming years, what with 6-8 sophomore Nate Gardner already earning some varsity time last year as a freshman and playing more of a major role this year. A big impact may be another year down the road, but Coach Kerry Rupp is hoping that Gardner will start to complement East's outside threat, featuring returning 6-0 senior point guard Royal Hansen.

Notwithstanding Gardner, the Leopards are on the low end of the measuring stick, with Rupp hoping that consistency and cooperation will decrease East's size limitations. Senior leadership is looked for from the likes of Josh Creer, Danny McMaster and Jeremy Jaggi.

Highland: Take it as a prediction, or take it as a warning - just take heed of Coach Larry Maxwell's statement. "We're a contender for state this year," he said. "I didn't feel that way until five or six days ago, but we're coming around."

That coming around includes returning starter and senior standout Kerry Hicks, a 6-6 banger with a nice shooting touch, too. Joining Hicks inside is 6-4 senior Quen Cannon, while the perimeter finds the junior duo of 6-0 Justin Scott and David Smith.

Olympus: The Titans are nearly double-digit deep when it comes to their varsity rotation, with a pair of senior guards - 6-3 Matt Wright and 5-11 Brett Buchi - back in starting roles for first-year Coach John Bowman.

Newcomers expected to make major impact this year include 6-3 senior forward-guard Adam Zimmerman along with 6-4 senior frontliners Jim Boyce and Erik Lundmark - the latter being the 4A high-jump runner-up. Of course, his jumping will have to help out the smallish Titans, who top at the 6-4 size.

Skyline: Sure, 6-4 junior guard Jaron Boone is back, the son of former ABA/NBA player Ron Boone having averaged 22 points a game last year as a sophomore. But he's the only strter back for Coach Paul Jeppesen, who says, "he (Jaron) hasn't played quite as well as he did at the end of last season - he's still trying to find himself, and the others are trying to find themselves, too."

While everybody's looking to see how they fit in with each other with the new-look Eagles, Skyline is counting on contributions from 6-1 senior guards Jeremy Nevens and Trevor Clements as well as from a pair of 6-4 junior forwards in Dave Edwards and Scott Brienholt.