Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

When Snow Canyon’s Autumn Shipp tore her ACL in the opening week of practice back in November, the Warriors’ hopes of repeating as 3A state champs immediately took a major hit.

Internally though, the Warriors always knew they had the pieces to repeat. The path to another championship won’t be easy.

Snow Canyon finished third in the ultra-competitive Region 9 this year, and as a result must hit the road in the opening round of the 3A state tournament this Saturday.

“It does change our path a little bit, but hopefully we can regroup,” said Snow Canyon coach Wade Jensen, whose team dropped its regular-season finale on Tuesday. “We’re not intimidated by anybody by any means. We just have to focus on what we do.”

Snow Canyon (15-6) opens the playoffs at Region 10 runner-up Judge (15-6) this Saturday, a difficult and intriguing match-up for both teams.

Judge guard Kailie Quinn leads 3A in scoring at 20.2 ppg, while reigning 3A MVP Amy Harris isn’t far behind at 17.3 ppg.

“Two of the top guards in the state will be going head to head. It’s going to be on their home court, and that’s an advantage to them, but we try and schedule tough preseason games to prepare us for this,” said Jensen.

Snow Canyon-Judge isn’t the only intriguing first-round game involving Region 9 and 10. Region 10 champion Juan Diego (19-2) hosts a very good Dixie (14-7) team, which is more than capable of pulling off an upset.

Desert Hills and Cedar tied for first in Region 9, and even though they face teams with winning records from Region 10, both are certainly the favorites to advance to the quarterfinals.

Cedar (17-4) hosts Uintah (13-9), while Desert Hills (19-2) hosts Wasatch (15-6).

The Thunder are itching to make another deep run in the state tournament after narrowly losing in last year’s 3A title game.

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“The one advantage when you get that close and you lose it, you have a little bit more motivation to get back and win it. Our girls have worked really hard since the end of last season to get an opportunity to get back,” said Desert Hills coach Chris Allred.

The 3A state tournament shifts to Weber State next Thursday with the four quarterfinals.

Region 11 champion Morgan (18-2) hopes that playing at nearby Weber State will be an advantage, assuming it gets past North Sanpete (8-12) in the first round.

The remaining first round games on Saturday are Spanish Fork (9-11) at Bear River (11-10), Stansbury (10-11) at Carbon (15-6) and Ogden (8-12) at Delta (14-5).