We’re excited for it, but the same time nervous because every game counts now. If you lose now you don’t get to get in the gym the next day to try and improve on what you need to correct. —Emery head coach Lynne Tuttle
SANDY — There are no inevitabilities in sports, but Richfield and Emery meeting in the 3A girls basketball state championship game later this month seems as close to a sure bet as they come.
Top-ranked Emery won 21 games during the regular season and finished with the top scoring offense in 3A (73.0 ppg) and an average margin of victory over 33 points.
Richfield, meanwhile, leads 3A in scoring defense (30.7 ppg) and enjoyed an averaged margin of victory of 20 points.
The two split their Region 15 meetings, both winning on the road. No other 3A team came remotely close to beating Emery and Richfield.
Emery coach Lynne Tuttle knows the bullseye is squarely on his team and Richfield’s in this year’s 3A state tournament, which gets underway this Friday at Wasatch High School with eight first-round games.
“We’re excited for it, but the same time nervous because every game counts now. If you lose now you don’t get to get in the gym the next day to try and improve on what you need to correct,” said Tuttle.
Both Richfield and Emery are hungry to avenge last year’s heartache too. Richfield lost to Juan Diego 34-32 in last year’s 3A championship at Utah State, while Emery fell to North Sevier 49-45 in the 2A championship at the Sevier Valley Center.
“When we left Utah State, those juniors kind of made the decision right there. They wanted to get back to the championship game, and hopefully they can because that’s been one of their goals,” said Richfield coach Mark Peterson.
After Friday’s games at Wasatch, the tournament shifts to Dixie State in St. George the following Thursday through Saturday, with the championship taking place at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
It would be a major upset if anyone but Emery and Richfield were playing in that game.
This week though, Tuttle said the only thing his players need to be focused on is their first playoff game against Providence Hall at 6:30 p.m.
“The most important game of our season is the next one coming, not two or three down the road,” he said.
Emery has four players averaging in double figures this season, led by Megan Jensen (17.1 ppg) and Lainee Jensen (13.0 ppg).
The other three first-round games in Emery’s bottom half of the bracket are Manti vs. Grantsville, South Sevier vs. Union and Summit Academy vs. Carbon. Barring any upsets in the first round, Emery would face rival Carbon in the quarterfinals, which could be a very intriguing game as Carbon ranks third in 3A scoring defense and has won seven straight games.
Richfield kicks off the games this Friday at Wasatch against American Leadership at 8:30 a.m. It’s then followed by Delta vs. Morgan, San Juan vs. Judge Memorial and Grand vs. Juab.
Morgan will likely face Morgan in the quarterfinals, and Peterson said that’s no gimme considering Morgan’s tradition of playoff success.
“If we take care of our first game and go onto the quarterfinals, Morgan has a really good program and we have kind of a bit of a history with Morgan back and forth, and they’re a team that could surprise some people,” said Peterson.
Grantsville shared the Region 13 title with Morgan and could make some noise during the tournament, as could Juab and Union who shared the Region 14 title with Carbon.