Asher Swan, Asher Swan/ The Spectrum & Dail
Head Coach for the Emery Spartans Dean Stilson high fives his team after winning their first game of the region 9 playoffs against Beaver high on Thursday February 22, 2013 in Cedar City.

OREM — The basketball rim lacked generosity for Emery last February. The Spartans mustered a mere 27 points in their eventual title-game loss to Richfield.

Now, one year removed, the program aims to avenge the disappointing performance. Emery enters the 2014 2A girls state tournament as the favorite.

Behind its high-powered offense, which topped the classification in points per game, Emery’s quest for redemption begins against Rockwell, the No. 4 seed from Region 14, on Friday at Orem High.

“The girls obviously want to get back there again,” said Emery coach Dean Stilson, whose team has won 14 of the last 15 games. “I don’t have to do a lot of motivating. They want to be there and they want a different outcome.”

In total, Orem will host eight games, starting with South Sevier (Region 15, No. 2) and Waterford (Region 14, No. 3) at 8:30 a.m. before wrapping up with North Summit (Region 16, No. 2) and Enterprise (Region 13, No. 3) in the nightcap at 8:10 p.m.

“I think we need to play really good defense. That’s kind of set the tone this year,” Stilson said when asked what he thought his team needed to do to capture a state championship. “We’ve got to be consistent on offense and not have runs and letdowns. Consistency and defense."

Delta, which was reclassified down into 2A this season, already proved it can handle Emery in an earlier nonregion match. The Rabbits (Region 13, No. 1) limited Emery to 11 first-half points and ultimately held on for a three-point win on the road behind Sidney Springer, who finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

Stilson believes there are multiple teams with an opportunity to make a deep postseason run.

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“There could be seven or eight teams really,” he said. “There’s some really good teams. Delta, Millard, Enterprise, I think any of those teams could be there. North Summit, South Summit and Gunnison might even sleep and wake somebody up. I actually think South Sevier is pretty solid. I think any of those teams could be there at the end.”

There’s only one guarantee: a new champion will be crowned. Emery is the only remaining 2013 semifinalist after Richfield jumped up to 3A while Kanab and Parowan finished with a collective record of 8-34 this season after losing several key contributors from the previous year.


Twitter: @phibbs_