The Cedar Redmen haven't been much of a factor in Class 3A boys basketball during the last decade.
Stuck in a region with larger schools and basketball powers in St. George, Cedar, prior to this year, hadn't finished a season with a winning record since the 2000-01 year.
But thanks to a stunning turnaround, the Redmen are restoring tradition in their basketball program.
Cedar has compiled a 16-6 record and is in the 3A quarterfinals for the first time in 11 years. The Redmen play Logan at the E Center at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday. Cedar qualified for the quarterfinals by routing Emery 59-35 on Saturday.
The Redmen will finish a season with a winning record for the first time since they went 17-5 in 2001.
"We've talked about all these streaks," said Cedar coach Craig Cardon. "We've made the kids aware of these things, and they've gladly accepted the chance to restore some tradition."
Cedar earned the No. 1 seed from Region 9 in the 3A tournament by finishing higher than Canyon View and Hurricane in the 3A/4A mixed league's standings. The Redmen played a traditional league schedule against Pine View, Snow Canyon and Dixie. The Redmen swept the Flyers and split with Pine View.
Those results should leave no doubt about Cedar's legitimacy, but here's one more if you need proof: the Redmen are the only 3A team to defeat second-ranked Delta this season.
Cedar has been led by a lineup of four guards and one big man. Three players Joel Einfeldt, Jeff Evans and Brett Johnson average double figures in scoring. A sophomore, Kai Eldredge, has sparked the team since he was inserted into the starting lineup.
The Redmen also receive a boost, as well as some toughness, when football stars Logan Obering and Spencer Montgomery come off the bench for them. Cardon said those two have helped the team stay on track after they had their football season ended sooner than they expected.
"Those guys have kept us focused with what we want to achieve," Cardon said. "We want to play on Saturday. That's always been our goal."
Getting there won't be easy, as Logan and the Delta-Wasatch winner stand in the way of Cedar playing in Saturday's title game.
Top-ranked Judge is the odds-on favorite to win the 3A tournament. The Bulldogs didn't lose to any 3A teams during the regular season, and also went 4-0 against 4A teams."I think Judge is still the team to beat, but I don't think they're way out ahead of everybody," said Wasatch coach Lonnie Magnusson, whose team was swept by the Bulldogs in Region 10 play. "For someone like us, we'd have to play a perfect game to beat them. So far, we haven't been able to do it. They're awful tough and well-coached."
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