On Tuesday night, two of the top four teams in Region 11 will meet for the first of two times this season — twice over.
Add in the fact that the two schools in question are separated by less than 10 miles, and you have the makings of a pair of barn-burners.
The girls and boys teams from Tooele and Stansbury will meet Tuesday night at Stansbury High School in a doubleheader that promises to be intense and hard-fought. The girls game gets things started at 5:15 p.m., with the boys contest to follow.
There’s a lot more on the line than bragging rights. Both girls teams and both boys teams have legitimate postseason aspirations, and a win would go a long way toward securing a state tournament berth and a better seed. A loss this early in the region season isn’t the end of the world, but it also makes for a much smaller margin for error.
The Stansbury girls have a game at Juan Diego on Friday night between now and Tuesday, so they’ll come into the Tooele game either 2-1 or 1-2. But Tuesday night’s loss at home to Bonneville will surely motivate them. Losing at home is never a pleasant experience, and particularly not when you lose by five points after spotting your opponent a 12-point lead in the first quarter. Tooele just beat Juan Diego to even its record at 1-1 in region play after a frustrating outing against Bonneville in the opener, and is looking to separate itself from the pack.
There is a clear gap between the top four teams in the region — Bonneville, Stansbury, Tooele and Juan Diego — and the bottom three from Ogden, Ben Lomond and Park City. However, just because that gap exists, the top four can’t rest on their laurels. They have to make sure they take care of business, and games like Tuesday’s can only help build that cushion.
A similar situation exists on the boys’ side, though Park City can be considered a postseason contender as well. Juan Diego is the top team in the region, but below the Soaring Eagle, there are four teams battling for three playoff spots. Tooele made a statement with its come-from-behind road victory over Bonneville in the region opener, while Stansbury gave the Lakers all they could handle for most of Tuesday night’s game
A win for the Stallions over Tooele thrusts Stansbury right back into contention for home-court advantage in the first round of the state tournament. A win for Tooele solidifies the Buffs’ grip on the No. 2 spot
This is exactly the situation you want out of a rivalry game You have two teams jockeying for position and trying to throw a wrench into each other’s playoff hopes.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’s hoping for an exciting — yet still civilized — rivalry night on Tuesday. Email him at email@example.com.