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Keith Johnson, Deseret News
South Summit celebrates after beating Waterford 38-37 in the 2A boys basketball state championship in Richfield, Feb. 27, 2010.

Editor's note: The 3A basketball preview will be in Saturday's Deseret News.

With a sophomore as its lone returning starter, this season was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for South Sevier.

Coach Scott Hunt always knew he'd have talent to work with, but he wasn't sure how long it would take to come together. Apparently not long at all.

The Rams are off to a 10-0 start this season, including a victory over Millard in the Cowboy Classic on Wednesday night. They're a long way from starting 23-0 like last year's team, but if the first few months are any indication, South Sevier takes on the early role as the team to beat in 2A this season.

"I thought they'd be down a bit, but coach Hunt does a really good job of finding the things they do well and playing to those strengths," said Parowan coach Blair Einfeldt. "They shoot the ball extremely well. They have three or four guys that, if you leave them a second of daylight, they can knock a 3 in on you. It will be tough to beat those guys."

South Sevier's average margin of victory is over 25 points, and its only competitive game this year was a 53-48 season-opening win over Juab.

Hunt is as surprised as anyone.

"I definitely thought it would be a rebuilding year. We graduated four very good seniors," he said. "It's kind of a surprise where we're at right now."

South Sevier is led by sophomore Race Parsons (22.0 points per game), senior Brandon Winn (15.2 ppg) and junior Kaden King (12.0 ppg). Heading into Wednesday's game, they had combined to knock down 60 3-pointers.

As well as the Rams are playing heading into 2011, winning a state title is never easy. Last season, South Sevier took a 23-0 record into the 2A semifinals but lost to South Summit. In 2009, South Sevier was 22-1 before losing to North Summit in the state championship game.

There are several teams in 2A capable of knocking off South Sevier again, none more so than defending champion South Summit.

Even though the Wildcats have struggled at times this preseason, as their 5-4 record indicates, they've played a tough schedule. They also appear to be heading in the right direction with a four-game winning streak.

Parowan's coach believes South Summit's slow start is related to a deep run during the state football playoffs.

"They play a style of defense that you have to be in great basketball shape to play that style. They're in football shape. Once they get in basketball shape, their defense will start kicking in a little bit better and they'll be a lot tougher," said Einfeldt.

Once the defense comes around, South Summit will be tough to beat, with a balanced offense in which four different players average around 10 points per game. Region 14 also appears to be down this year, so South Summit should find a nice rhythm and pick up plenty of victories once league play rolls around.

South Sevier won't have that luxury. The combined record of the five teams in Region 15 is 35-8. Hunt prefers it that way.

Region 15 foe San Juan is another team off to a great start. Fresh off of their 2A football title, the Broncos are enjoying similar success indoors with a 9-1 record on the court this preseason.

First-year San Juan coach Wade Mortensen, who coached across the border in Cortez, Colo., for 30 years, believes the winning mentality from football has carried over.

"We're feeling it in a positive way. They know how to win, and that's been evident in some of our close games. They know how to turn it on when they need to," said Mortensen.

San Juan has decent size and is a balanced offensive team, with four different players averaging over nine points.

North Sevier (8-1) is another Region 15 team off to an impressive start and should factor in the 2A race.

In Region 13, only Parowan and Kanab have a realistic shot at claiming the region title. With four returning starters, Parowan has a clear edge.

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"We're coming together," said Einfeldt, whose team is 5-3 this preseason. "We've really tried to do our best as a coaching staff to schedule tough competition in our pre-region schedule."

Two of Parowan's losses came against 3A schools Hurricane and Juab, but its biggest opportunity to prove itself will be on Jan. 5 when it hosts South Sevier.

Deseret News 2A region projections

Note: Projections were picked by Deseret News staff, with input from coaches.

Region 13

1. Parowan

2. Kanab

3. Beaver

4. Millard

5. Enterprise

6. Cross Creek

Region 14

1. South Summit

2. Rowland Hall

3. North Summit

4. Layton Christian

5. Waterford

6. Maeser Prep

7. Rockwell

Region 15

1. South Sevier

2. San Juan

3. North Sevier

4. Gunnison

5. Grand

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com