High school basketball is in full swing with one of the biggest high school showcases of the year taking place at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield this weekend.
The 2A-3A Preview is in its 14th year and continues to get stronger every year thanks to all of the support from the community.
“We couldn’t put this on without the help from our sponsors and the numerous community volunteers who help make this possible,” Tournament Director Richard Barton said.
Five teams from Region 9 (Cedar, Desert Hills, Dixie, Hurricane and Pine View) as well as Enterprise, are in the showcase along with 10 other teams.
“We love going up there,” Pine View head coach Darrell Larsen said. “It’s always fun to get out of town and to go play on the road. This is a great opportunity for our team to learn and to grow. This showcase helps simulate what it’s like in the state tournament (playing games every day), and to get that type of experience against really good teams is great for our team. “
Dixie head coach Ryan Cuff said it’s fun to see what his team is made of early on.
“We like to schedule a game against Richfield the day before the tournament so that way we’re playing three games in three nights,” Cuff said. “We learn a lot from this, and it helps us out tremendously with so many guys getting a lot of playing time.”
Despite winning the 3A championship, losing four starters as well as the three-headed monster of Kody Wilstead, Garrett Bowker and Chaz Petersen, the Pine View basketball team just keeps reloading. The Panthers are 2-0 and heading into the showcase with confidence.
Trey Farrer made his varsity debut one to remember. The junior scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a win over Manti in the season opener. The duo of Tyler Johnston (17.5 ppg), and Cody Ruesch (15.5 ppg) has also given Coach Larsen a new three-headed monster to work with, which should continue to give opposing coaches nightmares.
Pine View will play Logan on Friday (2:30 p.m.) and Grantsville on Saturday (9 a.m.).
Four players scored in double figures as Desert Hills defeated Canyon View, 71-61, in the home opener at the Thunderdome on Tuesday. Tyler Simister led the way with 14 points, Tanner Turley scored 12 and Marcus Mckone and Cameron Clayton has 11 apiece in the balanced scoring attack.
With several players gone due to graduation — including star forward Quincy Mathews who is now playing at Dixie State — the Thunder don’t appear to have one dominant scorer, but now have several players who will each take turns lighting up the scoreboard.
Desert Hills head coach Wade Turley will need some big performances this weekend if the Thunder want to keep their perfect record intact against Richfield on Friday (8:30 p.m.), and Morgan on Saturday (noon).
The Tigers lost a heartbreaker at home to start the season against Canyon View. The Falcons slipped past the Tigers, 77-76, on the road.
Hurricane looks to improve from last year’s disappointing season in which the Tigers won just six games. Like most teams in Region 9, Hurricane lost a number of players to graduation, but Reagan Hinton, Landon Barker, and Kirt McDaniel return to lead the Tigers.
Hinton scored 26 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the season opener. Barker added 17 points and five rebounds and McDaniel had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Hurricane will play Tooele on Friday (1 p.m.), and South Sevier on Saturday (6 p.m.).
After taking second at state in 2014, last year’s opening round loss in the 3A Playoffs was disappointing for the Redmen faithful.
Luckily, Keenan Nielson returns to lead the Redmen back to greatness. Nielson, a junior, was the second leading scorer last year (9.5 ppg) and with the return of Mason Fakahua (9 ppg), Ben Brinkerhoff (9 ppg), and Braden Garett (7 ppg), the “Fab Four” should present several challenges for opposing teams.
Cedar will play Morgan on Friday (4 p.m.), and Manti on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).
Dixie’s Cinderella run came up just short of winning the 3A title against Pine View last season. Despite losing leading scorer Jake Hawes and lockdown defender R.J Wilgar, Tyler Bennett and Malachi Otis return for the Flyers.
“It was a great experience and we have a hunger to get back there (3A basketball title game),” Bennett said.
Bennett, averaged 16.8 points per game last year — second on the team — and Otis led the team in steals and assists.
The Flyers will play Grantsville and Logan this weekend and Coach Cuff knows it is going to be a big challenge.
“Both of those programs are really good so they are both going to give us a big test,” he said. “It’s going to show us where we are at and where we still need to improve at.”
Dixie will play Grantsville on Friday (11:30 a.m.), and Logan on Saturday (10:30 a.m.).
The Wolves had a great run last year after placing third at state. But this year has been tough after losing the top five scorers from a year ago.
Michael Dougherty (17.3 ppg), Caden Prisbrey (10.3 ppg) and Jo Shurtliff (10.6 ppg) are playing well after seeing limited action last year, but will need some more help if they want to make another deep run in the tournament.
Enterprise can pick up some big wins this week as they play Manti on Friday (10 a.m.), and North Sevier on Saturday (4:30 p.m.).
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.