OGDEN Snow Canyon may have entered this week's 4A tournament as a region champion and the top seed out of Region 9. But the Warriors feel like none of that matters in a part of the state where little is known about them beyond the school's name.
Coming out of a region split between classifications, the Warriors see the Dee Events Center as just the latest in a series of proving grounds for them.
"We're trying to say we're for real," said senior forward Dalton Groskreutz. "Southern Utah does have some basketball players."
Previous first round losses in each of Snow Canyon's final two years in 3A weighed on the team's mind as it took on West. Establishing themselves as a 4A contender meant more than a one-and-done appearance for the Warriors.
"I hate losing and not being able to get past that first round was more incentive for us, as a team, to come out and get it done," Groskreutz said.
Snow Canyon took a big step toward establishing their legitimacy with Tuesday's 76-54 victory over West. The Warriors have advanced to a quarterfinal game for only the second time since winning a state title in 2002.
Getting past quarterfinal Timpview would serve as a major eye-opener. But it won't be easy with the Thunderbirds now on a three game winning streak after routing Roy 71-48 in their first round game. Timpview has beaten all three opponents in the streak by more than 20 points.
In the past, Snow Canyon has turned to height as its major advantage against opponents. Seth Weinheimer and Groskreutz the team's leading scorers are 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-6 respectively. Overall, the Warriors have five players on their roster at 6-foot-6 or above.
But the T-Birds negate that usual advantage with some of taller players of their own led by 6-foot-7 Bronson Kaufusi, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds against the Royals.
What may be a bigger key for the Warriors is getting out to a fast start. In Timpview's last two losses, against Provo and Orem, it was outscored 68-44 in the first half.
The T-Birds were able to bury Roy early, in large part, because they understood their opponent and got off to a good start.
"I felt like we knew Roy pretty good," said Timpview coach Perry Wildeboer. "The preparation gave us some confidence. It turned out good for us."
Snow Canyon offers a much different playing style than what the Royals presented. The Warrior offense works at its best when Weinheimer and Groskreutz get enough touches to make things happen around the basket.
Understanding how to stop them from controlling the low post will be the new name of the game for Timpview.
"It's a lot different than what we just played today," Kaufusi said. "We'll have to make some changes and get ready for them."If the T-Birds should prevail against Snow Canyon, they would reach the 4A semifinals for a second consecutive season.