After several weeks of preseason play and a couple of league games already gone, there's one certainty in Region 6 - the uncertainty.
Longtime league powerhouse Judge Memorial is down in talent this year; preseason favorites Granite and Woods Cross haven't measured up to expectations on a consistent basis; and the rest of the teams have shown some spots of brilliance as well as some moments of respective weaknesses.Bountiful: Perhaps the biggest problems plaguing the Braves this season is their success in football. Bountiful was scheduled to play its first basketball game less than a week after winning the 3A state football title - and it seems like the Coach Mike Maxwell's Braves are still struggling to catch up.
Three of the Braves top returnees - 5-10 senior Aaron Roderick, 6-1 senior Austin Lindsey and 6-2 senior Chris Godfrey - are some of those football standouts expected to continue their contributions on the hardwood. Bountiful has some fresh faces - and some senior-class size - along the frontline in 6-4 Jon Peterson, 6-4 Tony Jones and 6-3 Brett Leonhardt.
Granite: Coach Charlie Whiting would love his Farmers to perform a little more plainly. "We need consistency - we've been really good or really bad - we can't get them to be average," said Whiting, who has four starters back from Granite's state-tournament lineup last year.
Pat McGrath, a 6-3 junior guard who started late as a sophomore, is averaging 22 points a game. Also back are 6-5 senior center Stuart Roberts (he averaged 9 points, 10 rebounds last year) and 6-3 senior guard Richard Paul (8 points, 7 rebounds). Making more varsity contributions this year are 6-3 junior forward Jeff Simmons, 6-3 senior forward Ryan Burn, and 6-1 junior guard Mike Hutchings.
Jordan: The Beetdiggers are finally in region competition after playing a preseason slate that looked like a who's who of 4A powerhouses, including Bingham, Timpview, Bonneville, Hillcrest and Cottonwood.
Coach Hal Hale has some size, starting with the Lombardi duo - 6-3 senior Ty Lombardi and 6-5 junior Koy Lombardi. There's more size inside with 6-4 senior Michael Boyack and 6-4 sophomore Steve Boyack, while the backcourt has senior leadership in 6-0 Hadden Fraser, 5-10 Eric Hagen and 5-11 Mitch Berg.
Judge Memorial: The Bulldogs will be hard-pressed to be the same 3A state contenders in recent seasons. The top talent of late - a la Jimmy Soto, Chris Jones and the like - are long gone, and Coach Jim Yerkovich has essentially no returnees with varsity experience.
Oh, 5-8 senior point guard Eric Leyba saw limited time last year with the senior-dominated Judge squad that went undefeated in league play. And three- sport standout Tim Clark could be considered a returnee of sorts, but he missed last season and had been fighting a mono infection and back injury. Newcomers this season include 6-4 senior Danny Nowicki, 6-1 junior John Yerkovich, and 6-1 freshman Jeramie Martin.
Murray: First-year Spartan Coach Gordon Kener has a couple of starters back from last year's team - 6-1 senior forward Jeremy Winget and 6-0 junior guard Kevin Carlston. And 6-2 junior forward Joey Johnson is one of another half-dozen Murray players were are back for another season of varsity ball.
Balancing out the backcourt is some of the Spartans' newcomers - a pair of 6-0 junior guards in Brian Anderson and Dave Hooper.
Tooele: The strength of Coach Clyde Ahlquist's Buffalo team may be found outside along the perimeter, featuring 5-11 senior guard Shawn Walker, 6-1 junior guard-forward Todd Warner, and 6-0 sophomore point guard Marc Lawson.
Inside, Tooele is tall albeit a bit inexperienced, being led by the senior duo of 6-5 Matt Vorwaller and 6-4 Jason Rook. The only other player measuring above 6-1 is 6-2 Drew Hansen, but he's just a freshman and may be a year or two away from making a major impact.
West: The Panthers can be considered somewhat on the puny side, since Coach Bob Lyman has only one player above 6-2 - and that's 6-4 sophomore Ben Gaddis.
Carrying most of West's varsity experience are the likes of 6-2 senior center Josh Barton, 6-2 sophomore forward-guard Chris Stepan, and 5-11 senior Grant Brower. Newcomers to the rotation this season include 6-0 senior forward Joel Cosby, 6-0 junior forward Russ Gridley, and 5-10 junior guard Sam Johnson.
Woods Cross: The Wildcats are big this year - but Coach Kevin Wilson has had some problems convincing his players to play that way. "We need to make sure we play as a team and make sure we utilize our size - they sometimes seem uncomfortable playing inside and our guards sometimes are uncomfortable going in there," said Wilson.
The experience starts with 5-9 senior point guard Mike Gurr, while other on-and-off starters from last year include 6-6 senior forward-center Matt King and 6-7 senior forward Jon Wickizer. Newcomers include 6-7 senior center Brian Tayler and 5-10 senior guard Ryan Creer, while 6-3 senior Ryan VanAlfen needs to come back from a post-football knee surgery.