With the state tournament knocking at the door, now is the time for women’s basketball coaches and players to step up and raise the bar.
All the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears you’ve invested have gotten you to this point.
Trust yourself and your teammates; go ahead and let your light shine!
Who’s ready to step up?
I’ll break down the teams I think have a shot at winning it all and the players who will get them there:
Cedar Valley is directed by Olivia Kaaihue, Naomi Nicholson and Eve Schmalbeck. They carried this team to a 10-1 scoreline to claim the Region 7 crown. In just his third year, head coach Tony Ingle has this team ready to compete and make some noise.
Timpview is the hottest team right now on a nine-game winning streak. The Thunderbirds had a tough game Thursday night against Lehi, but with a win they would claim the Region 8 title (or tie with a loss). The T-birds played tough defense and turned it on with solid inside play from Maddie Edgington and Brooke Eyre and outside scoring from Hinemoa Aston.
Lehi, who is on a six-game winning streak, would earn a tie for the Region 8 title with a win. The Pioneers are looking to avenge their last loss, also against Timpview. The speed and athleticism of Maci Wall and Jamisyn Heaton and the steady play of Tera Smith, Sammi Love, Brooklyn Wiltbank and Addy Scrivner will take this group a long way. If they rebound and take care of the ball, this team will be dangerous.
Springville has been on a tear in Region 9 and is undefeated. They are a tough and disciplined defensive team. Kayla Porray, Ellie Esplin and Brooke Pennington formed a three-headed monster that carried this group to another championship run. Can they find the magic again and repeat?
Maple Mountain began to develop some momentum, only losing to Springville in regional play. Sheridan Liggett has played well in her last eight games, averaging 24 points per game, with a high of 37. She’s going to have to stay warm to give the Golden Eagles a chance at a deep tournament.
My 5A sleeper is Orem. The Tigers are playing their best ball so far. If they can find a way to stay focused, they have the parts to do it. Seniors Gaby Goo, Bricia Hendry and London Richards found their groove, and youngsters Rayli Galeai and Ady Hiatt blazed their way right past them. Watch out for the Tigers if they are hot.
Other teams to watch in 5A: Olympus, Highland, Bountiful and Jordan
Lone Peak have been the most consistent team I’ve seen this year and have the skill, tenacity and speed to go all the way. It will be difficult to match the speed and skill of the knight guards. Makeili Ika and Shawnee Nordstrom push the ball down the field, and Kailey Woolston, Teuila Nawahine and Naia Tanuvasa run and space the floor. They have five girls who can score at all three levels, and they all play defense. If Sarah Bartholomew can bounce back and control the paint, it will be tough in the state tournament.
Westlake has the experience and size to do it as a wekk. Tessa Chaney and Jill Lungren will have to take care of business inside while Kaylee Headrick and Siona Sauvao will take care of the ball on the perimeter. They are all interchangeable in head coach Mike O’Connor’s system and can all play indoors or outdoors.
Skyridge is my tournament sleeper. This team is just tough and plays tough on both ends. They pick you up all over the field and play passing lanes better than any team. They push the ball and attack the basket, but aren’t afraid to shoot from the 3 either. The guard play of Teagan Gray, Cambree Blackham, Shaeley Toole, Bella Sika and Donya Perkins is what drives this team forward. If they can wreak havoc on defense and hit a few 3s, I like these girls to make a deep run in the tournament.
Other teams to watch in 6A: Fremont, Bingham and Herriman.
American Heritage needs to make Holly Brockbank 3 and Hannah VanDarBeek needs to rebound and score inside. Coach Paora Winitana has her team playing disciplined and tough. They just need to make shots and make defensive plays to move on.
Rockwell will rely on its senior leaders to carry them. If Ellie Anderson and Jenna Bond can control the paint with a rebound and an inside score and get Greta Robinson 3 open looks, they’ll make some noise.
Whether I picked you or not, go out there and make a name for yourself and proudly represent your school, your community, your family and your team.
Everyone has a chance to win everything. You have to go there and take it because it will not be given to you.
This is the time when the stars will shine and new stars will be born. I can’t wait to see them play and see who comes forward!
My picks for state tournaments:
1A: Piute against Tabiona. Piute goes back to back.
2A: Castor versus Kanab. Beaver eliminates Kanab and Coach Marshall wins his 10th championship.
3A: Judge Memorial vs. Richfield. Judge stays perfect and wins the first state championship in school history.
4A: Ridgeline vs. Desert Hills. Ridgeline takes down Desert Hills for its first state championship in school history.
5A: Lehi versus Timpview. Lehi wins his first state title since 1980.
6A: Lone Peak versus Fremont. Lone Peak ends its perfect season.