There was so much talent in our region, and we fully expect to battle with at least some of those teams again in the tournament. —Lone Peak coach Dave Evans
When considering regular season accomplishments, along with pure reputation, it's quite clear who is the favorite of the 6A boys basketball tournament, which tips off Tuesday and runs through Saturday. That team would be Lone Peak, and for several reasons.
For starters, the Knights compiled a 19-3 overall record in the regular season while accomplishing a perfect 8-0 record in Region 4, a region regarded by most as the 6A classification's toughest. But it hasn't come easy, and hasn't been all smooth-sailing, according to Lone Peak coach Dave Evans.
"It was a battle, and I really don't know how we managed it, because it is such a tough region, but we were fortunate to do so," Evans said. "There was so much talent in our region, and we fully expect to battle with at least some of those teams again in the tournament."
One team Lone Peak could easily meet up with is Pleasant Grove, a team that came within one point of beating the Knights on Feb. 13. Bingham, as the defending state champion, could also make a deep run, along with Westlake, a team that really came on strong toward the end of the year.
But take away anything the Knights have done this year, and just the name of the program gets people's attention.
"They're Lone Peak, and that name carries a lot of reputation and accomplishment," said Kearns coach Dan Cosby. "Any time you see them in a bracket, and certainly when you play them — I don't know if I'd use 'afraid,' but you're definitely aware of all the great things that program has done, and they're that team again this year. They're definitely the favorite in my mind."
As for Kearns, it came up on top of Region 2, yet won't be entering tournament play firing on all cylinders, according to Cosby.
"We're not certain if we're going to have our top two guys, so I'm a little nervous going in," Cosby said, referring to Journey Buba, who is injured, and Majok Kuath, who is dealing with other issues. "I haven't had both of them the last three days, so we're going to need a lot of other guys to step up. It's going to be tough."
Joining Kearns as No. 1 seeds are Region 1 champion Fremont and Region 3 champion Riverton, which won a big game over Copper Hills for the region championship last Tuesday.
"Both Riverton and Copper Hills have great teams. And then there's Bingham, Layton, Pleasant Grove — I don't know much about Fremont, but it's been impressive what they've done. There's a lot of teams," Cosby observed.
As for Evans, he's hoping his team can draw on last year's experience, where the Knights made it to the championship game before losing narrowly to Bingham.
"I think it's a huge thing for us — knowing what it took to get there last year, and we can definitely draw on that," Evans said. "We've also been able to play in some tough tournaments out of state, so I feel we're ready, although you never really know what's going to happen."