Bountiful boys basketball coach Mike Maxwell is hoping that by now everybody has forgotten that his team won a state championship only a year ago.
And, in all actuality, overlooking the Braves' 1997 Class 5A crown is rather easy to do.After all, Bountiful won't be bringing a prestigious national ranking with it to Tuesday's 4A quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center, as Provo will. The Bulldogs are ranked 18th in the nation by USA Today.
Plus, the Braves, who are 13-8, haven't come close to winning 20 in a row, as second-ranked Olympus has.
So don't feel bad if you've let Bountiful slip your mind. Maxwell won't be offended. In fact, that's exactly how he likes it.
He vividly remembers last year's 5A tourney, when Weber and Brighton were the "teams to beat" and his squad was merely an afterthought to many.
"I'd hate to be the favorite," Maxwell said. "We weren't the favorite last time and we won it. I like coming in the underdog."
Of course, Bountiful and six other teams are pretty much coming into the quarterfinals as underdogs.
Since it nearly won that prestigious Kalani Tournament in Hawaii in December, top-ranked and defending 4A champion Provo has proved itself worthy of the national acclaim it's received. The Bulldogs cruised to a 14-0 record in claiming the Region 6 title.
"Yeah, it's Provo's (tournament to win)," said Maxwell, "but they have to go out and win three games."
Provo coach Craig Drury said he'll let the newspapers worry about which team is supposed to win it all.
"I try not to think about whether you're the favorite or not the favorite," he said. "Sky View's a good team. I'm just worrying about that game."
Probably not as much as the Bobcats are, though.
Here's a look at Tuesday's 4A quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center:
MOUNTAIN CREST (17-4) vs. AMERICAN FORK (12-8), 2:30 p.m.: Drury said the tournament darkhorse could be American Fork, which has two starters back from last year's team that lost in the 5A finals to Bountiful. Along with Mike Boice and Jon Schaack, Blaine Durrant has given A.F. another scoring threat.
The Cavemen will have their hands full with the third-ranked Mustangs and their scoring machine, USU-bound Tony Brown. The explosive Brown netted 39 points with four 3-pointers in Mountain Crest's first-round win over Murray.
Genessy's guess: Mountain Crest.
TIMPVIEW (16-5) vs. BOUNTIFUL (13-8), 4:10 p.m.: Maxwell said he couldn't be prouder of his young team for at least finishing in the final eight. "We probably started in the top 28," he joked.
Guard Zach Jacobs has been the Braves' go-to guy all season, and Paul Christensen has been averaging a double-double the past few weeks. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Bountiful's first-round win over Spanish Fork.
The fourth-ranked Thunderbirds were nearly upset on Friday as they escaped with a 60-59 win over Box Elder. Timpview has a good inside-outside combination with football all-staters Josh Covey (point guard) and James Jackson (forward).
Genessy's guess: Timpview.
WEBER (15-6) vs. OLYMPUS (20-1), 6:30 p.m.: For a change, Weber coach Lee Dickemore doesn't mind not having big expectations from others coming into the tournament. "I always like it," he said. "I hate it when you're ranked." The Warriors are 0-5 at the Huntsman Center the past three years, including last year's quarterfinal loss to Alta when they were ranked No. 1.
Since getting drubbed by Hunter in its season-opener, Olympus rolled in the preseason and to a 16-0 record in Region 5. Leading the way has been sweet-shooting John Hille, who brings a strong supporting cast with him.
"We're going to have to play an exceptional game to win," said Dickemore.
Genessy's guess: Olympus.
SKY VIEW (18-3) vs. PROVO (19-2), 8:10 p.m.: With a quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 Sky View and a potential semifinal with No. 2 Oly, the Bulldogs certainly don't have the easy road to repeating as champs. But if anybody can handle the challenge, it's Provo.
Senior guard Eric Jackson leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 20-plus points a game. "He's probably the best player in the state," Drury said. "He gets what he wants."
Forward Hala Kaufusi and sophomore Jake Chrisman give Provo a tough tandem down low, and point guard Nate Hutchings directs the Bulldogs offense with senior poise.
The key to Provo's championship run could be the play of guard Chris Allphin, who hit four 3-pointers in the first-round win over East. A twisted ankle put him back early in the season, but Drury said he's coming on strong lately.
The balanced Bobcats are led by guard Trevor Stokes.
Genessy's guess: Provo.