Last year was the perfect storm for Region 9 boys basketball.
Teams down south were incredibly talented, and combined with the state tournament being held at Dixie State College, it wasn’t surprising to see four Region 9 teams advance to the semifinals.
This year’s state tournament is up north though, and historically that doesn’t bode well for teams from Southern Utah.
“Being on the road, sleeping in hotel rooms, not eating mom’s food, it does make a difference,” said Snow Canyon coach James Brown. “We just go 45 minutes to Cedar and the kids’ mentality changes. Traveling is a big deal.”
Before Region 9 champion Snow Canyon or any other region foes can worry about the rigors of traveling, first they’ve got to get there.
The opening round of the state tournament begins this Friday with eight games taking place at home sites. The 3A state tournament continues next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Weber State.
For the second straight year, Region 9 and 10 crossover with each other in the first round, which presents a scary case of déjà vu for Judge.
Last year Region 10 champion Judge was upset at home in the first round by Region 9 No. 4 seed Dixie, and those two teams meet again this Friday in the first round.
That rematch might be the only competitive Region 9-10 crossover game, as the other three Region 10 teams have losing records.
Park City (9-13) travels to Snow Canyon (13-6), Union (8-12) travels to Cedar (14-7) and Wasatch (9-13) hosts Desert Hills (15-6).
Just as the southern teams capitalized on the state tournament at Dixie State last year, Region 11 teams are hoping for similar success at Weber State.
Region 11 champion Morgan (19-2) hosts Carbon (11-11) in the first round, and with 3A leading scorer Jake Miles leading the way, the potential is certainly there for the Trojans to win their first state title since 1974.
Region 11 runner-up Ben Lomond (13-9) hosts Delta (10-10) in the first round, and the Scots are itching for a shot to play at Weber State.
“Last year we hosted a game against Carbon, and we really wanted that again this year and found a way to get that accomplished. Now the next goal is to get to the Dee Events Center,” said coach Ryan Wilcox. “Hopefully we’ll make it to that point and enjoy some of that home-court advantage.”
The other two first round games feature Region 12 champion Spanish Fork (17-3) hosting Ogden (9-11) and then Region 12 runner-up Payson (11-12) welcoming Bear River (15-7), and neither is a gimme for the home team.