Sixteen 4A teams will take their first postseason steps in a wide-open race for the 1991 state championship basketballas the 4A UHSAA-First Security Bank prep basketball tournament gets under way this week.
The four rounds of 4A playoffs will be spread over a six-day period at the University of Utah's Huntsman Center, with the eight first-round games scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Tournament action then resumes next week.Below are the schedule of first-round matchups and a brief preview of the 16 teams participating in the 4A tournament.
Thursday's first-rounders include Hillcrest vs. Clearfield, 2:30 p.m.; Alta vs. Orem, 4:10 p.m.; Timpview vs. Brighton, 6:30 p.m.; and Viewmont vs. Taylorsville, 8:10 p.m.
Friday gives way to first-round afternoon affairs - Cottonwood vs. West Jordan, noon; Davis vs. Cyprus, 1:40 p.m.; Provo vs. Highland, 4 p.m.; Bingham vs. Bonneville, 5:40 p.m.
Viewmont (16-4): The Vikings have a 10-player rotation that doesn't rely on just one or two standouts - as evidenced by their play while guard John Robison was sidelined with an injury. Quick and sizable, Viewmont is bullish inside with the likes of Andy Jensen and Brad Bodily. Besides a 10-game midseason winning streak, the Vikings won four of their last five games.
Davis (15-5): The Darts also have an ample number of weapons and have adjusted to a run-and-gun attack, with Brett Barton and Travis Homer fitting in well with point guard Todd Heath and 6-6 coming-of-age junior David Isaacson. However, a midseason slump has some wondering which Davis team will show up - a struggling squad or the Darts that started the year in 6-0 fashion and finished by winning nine of its last 10 games.
Bonneville (15-5): The Lakers returned their frontline from last year - 6-8 Jonathan Hall, 6-6 Mike Porter and 6-6 Mike DeGroot. When they're involved, Bonneville is as good as anybody; however, there have been games when they've failed to dominate. Winning six straight before losing last week to Roy, Bonneville will likely be without sophomore point guard Dave Sivulich, who had been hospitalized for an allergic reaction to medication.
Clearfield (11-9): The Falcons feature strength on the perimeter with guards like Jason Dowdy and Joe Barerra, who shoot and handle the ball well. However, lacking some polish inside the paint, Clearfield may find itself in trouble should the outside game get shut down.
Cottonwood (17-2): The top-ranked Colts start with three-year starter Justin Weidauer, who some label as the state's top player this season. Toss in forwards Seth Miller and Jason Yocom, guards Brad Miller and Riley Jensen, and the team's back-to-back third-place 4A finishes, and you've got a Cottonwood team that is balanced, experienced and very hungry for a title. Playing together with well-defined roles, the Colts will need to stay under control - both physically and mentally - in the playoffs as they take an eight-game win streak into tonight's regular-season finale.
Alta (14-6): The Hawks are solid with senior-class experience; however, the team lacks some of the state-tournament seasoning that others enjoy. Justin Barlow, Scott Sexton and Ryan Bills provide quality outside shooting, while much of the banging is left to Ryan Dixon, which means that Alta as a team is not physically imposing. Alta's season seemed to go in repeating cycles of three wins and a loss.
Brighton (13-6): With juniors like guard Alex Fisher and 6-9 Joey Haws starting to come of age, the Bengals are blending as a team. Experienced in postseason play, Brighton seems anxious to get to the tournament. Haws and 6-8 forward Derrick Welling can sometimes play soft inside - but that's a problem that seems to plague most teams this season. The Bengals have won their last three games before going up against Cottonwood tonight.
Highland (12-8): The Rams are physical inside with Colorado football recruit Kerry Hicks plugging the paint. And Highland has an outside element in shooters like Justin Scott. While the Rams have some rough edges, they have an advantage in a veteran coach, Larry Maxwell. Another concern is Highland's finish of the regular season - a three-loss slump.
Hillcrest (18-2): The Huskies have skilled athletes like John Owen, Ryan Kelly and Brian Kelley who know their roles, know their outside shooting range and know how to play tough at both ends. The result is a Region 3 title and a current 10-win streak. However, besides 6-5 Jason Strong, Hillcrest is undersized, and the Huskies' 6-foot average size could be a detriment.
Bingham (13-7): The two-time defending 4A champion Miners have been in the postseason before. While this year's team may be a new-look squad, Bingham boasts depth, balance, quickness and a physical style that can make opponents look bad. Outside shooting could be a question mark and the Miners may be suspect to pressure. But Bingham has been one of the hottest unsung teams, finishing the season by winning 10 of its last 11 games.
Cyprus (12-8): Coaches seem to covet the Pirate pair of all-arounder Cade Osborn and shooter Everest Matagi, and Jason VanTassell can bomb away when unguarded. However, Cyprus does lack size and strength inside and the Pirates will need to stay in their game. Cyprus finished the second half of the season with a 7-3 run.
Taylorsville (11-9): On any given night, the Warriors can be effective with a host of shooters like Dave Gylling, Jeff Jenson and Scott DeBenedictis. Taylorsville's deliberate offense replete with backside picks and screens can be troublesome to a first-time foe. Overall quickness and a lack of physical play in the paint could hurt the Warriors, which ended by losing five of its last seven games.
West Jordan (9-11): Strong shooting will be the key for the Jaguars, with the likes of Kenny Wamsley, Jared Halls and Jason Rowland from the distances and 6-4 Fernando Rodrigues from closer ranges. West Jordan will have to overcome tendencies to sometimes play soft inside and ragged overall.
Provo (17-3): The Bulldogs boast strengths inside and out - Matt Lohner in an intelligent playmaking guard and Kip Rollins a sharpshooting backcourt mate. Terence Saluone is a leaper and shooter on the frontline, while 6-9 Nathan Reynolds provides intimidation. Aggressive on defense and patient on offense, Provo ran off a 16-1 record before injuries and sickness lead to losses in two of its last three games.
Timpview (18-3): Richard Jackson, the 6-6 swingman who is talented enough for Stanford to be put on hold during a two-year LDS mission, leads a talented T-bird team that includes Bob Bearnson and Paul Disbrow inside and Ryan Olson and Matt Bateman outside. Timpview likes to go up-tempo - that's fine if the T-birds are clicking but frustrating if the shots aren't dropping. Timpview started out 14-0 but only won four of its last seven games.
Orem (13-6): The Tigers toss out several players who can post up inside, such a 6-6 Cameron Johnson. And guard Bryce Hall, who's hitting nearly 60 percent from 3-point range, keeps the defense from collapsing. Ending the regular season by winning six of its last seven games, Orem has to strive for consistent play in making its first tournament appearance in several seasons.