The common feeling around the Huntsman Center after Monday's 5A quarterfinals was that an unusual thing had just happened. Most coaches thought the teams that were "supposed" to win and make it into the semifinals did.
"I wouldn't say I'm going out on a limb to say that the best four teams are left," said Orem coach Matt Logan, whose Tigers join Brighton, Layton and Mountain View in Wednesday's semifinal round at the Huntsman Center.But one of those teams is not like the others. The top-ranked Layton Lancers are the only non-Region 3 team remaining. The other three tied for that league's championship.
"This says a lot for our region," said Mountain View coach Rob Cuff, whose team beat second-ranked Davis to get into the semifinals.
For obvious reasons, Logan is hoping Saturday's 5A championship game will be an all-Region 3 affair as well.
"Hopefully it will be a catfight," he said, hinting that he might prefer that his Tigers face the Bengals over the Bruins for the title should Orem upset tourney-favorite Layton.
Here's a look at Wednesday's 5A semifinals at the Huntsman Center:
LAYTON (19-3) VS. OREM (16-6), 6:30 p.m.: Because of its depth, Layton still has to be considered the favorite to win it all.
However, the Lancers will likely need more production out of their top scorers - guard Chet Neilson and center Matt Mark - to get by the quick Tigers. Neilson only scored eight points in the quarterfinal win over Skyline. Mark, who is Layton's leading scorer, has just 11 points in the two playoff wins.
"Two games, and he's had 11 points, and we're winning. That tells you a lot about our team," said Layton coach Scott Applegate. "I don't know who's going to come in and step it up. These guys need to be ready."
Layton's 10-man rotation doesn't sit well with Orem coach Matt Logan.
"They've got great players everywhere," he said. "We have got to get a good effort from every player on our team. You never know which (Layton) player is going to kill ya."
Genessy's guess: Layton.
BRIGHTON (12-10) VS. MTN. VIEW (16-6), 8:10 p.m.: A trip to the finals isn't all that is motivating the Bruins in this exciting matchup. Mountain View wants revenge for Brighton's controversial 55-54 victory that denied the Bruins sole ownership of the Region 3 crown.
"We owe them something now," said Mountain View center Scott Henry, the Bruins' sole senior starter. "We're all excited to play them."
The two teams split, but Mountain View only remembers the loss.
"We felt like we could have won at Brighton, and we didn't," Cuff said, refusing to comment on questionable refereeing that allowed Bengal guard Reno Mahe to win the game on a free throw. "I guess this is the tiebreaker."
Don't be surprised if these same two teams meet late in the playoffs in 1999, too. The Bruins start four juniors, and the Bengals have their coveted trio of stellar sophomores.
"I hope we have better results than last year," said Brighton coach Jim Jimas, recalling last year's 64-55 semifinal loss to eventual-champion Bountiful.
Genessy's guess: Mountain View.